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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 10 hours 46 min ago

‘No, Secretary Zinke. Record-Breaking Wildfires in California Have Everything to Do with Climate Change’

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 16:43
Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 by Common Dreams “Of course, as real and not-at-all-radical environmentalists pointed out, what ZInke is really saying is that he wants to give the nation’s forests over to the timber industry for clear-cutting, consequences and destruction of natural habitat be damned.” ‘No, Secretary Zinke. Record-Breaking Wildfires in California Have Everything to Do with Climate Change’

People who actual understand science, and also care about planet’s future, accuse Interior Secretary of “either being willfully ignorant or purposely deceptive.”

by Jon Queally, staff writer

A wildfire burns near Yosemite national park. (Photo: US forest service/Reuters)

After U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke over the weekend outrageously and falsely declared that the largest wildfires in the history of California have “nothing to do with climate change,” it was up to people who actually understand the science—and give a shit about the future of the planet—to set him straight.

Last week, as Common Dreams reported, Zinke went to the pages of USA TODAY to blame the wildfires ravaging California and elsewhere on so-called “radicial environmentalists” who are somehow preventing forest management – an argument he repeated over the weekend while visiting destroyed areas in California. Of course, as real and not-at-all-radical environmentalists pointed out, what ZInke is really saying is that he wants to give the nation’s forests over to the timber industry for clear-cutting, consequences and destruction of natural habitat be damned. Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, explained to The Hill thatZinke is just straight up wrong about the clear role that warming temperatures—now increasingly driven by human-caused global warming—are playing in creating larger and more powerful wildfires. “Climate change creates drought, high wind conditions, low humidity. Fire creates its own weather,” Spivak said. “You can thin all you want till the cows come home but fire will overtake that … what is misleading is people like Zinke and other people who refuse to talk about climate change and how we need to tackle that.”

And as Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and staff writer for Grist, wrote on Monday regarding Zinke’s weekend comments in California and ongoing fires in Montana’s Glacier National Park, “This summer has felt like a global warming turning point.” But in the end, he said, it does matter what people like Zinke and President Trump say about the cause and the solution.

Categories: Food and Farming

With Merger Pending, Bayer Shares Plunge After Court Orders Monsanto to Pay $289 Million to Cancer Victim

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 16:16
Are there any other companies in the world more despised? With Merger Pending, Bayer Shares Plunge After Court Orders Monsanto to Pay $289 Million to Cancer Victim Common Dreams: The nosedive comes as groups say nearly-finalized merger threatens consumers, farmers, and planet by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Shares in Bayer fell dramatically in the wake of a court ordering its unit Monsanto to pay out $289 million in damages in a cancer trial.  (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

Shares in Bayer took a nosedive on Monday—just days after newly-acquired Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages to a man who alleged that the company’s glyphosate-based herbicides, including the widely used weedkiller Roundup, caused his cancer.

At one point the German pharmaceutical giant’s shares fell by as much as 14 percent, Reuters reported, marking a loss in value of roughly $14 billion.

It capped off the U.S. trading day as one of the “biggest losers,” ending at a 10-percent loss.

Friday was also a losing day for Monsanto, which Bayer AG controversially acquired for $62.5 billion in June. In a landmark trial, a San Francisco jury unanimously found that the company failed to warn school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who’s suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other consumers of the cancer risks from its weed killers, and said the company acted “with malice or oppression.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO)—classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, but Monsanto says its Roundup is safe, and that it plans on appealing.

Monday also marked the last day of the public comment period for the finalization of the merger process, prompting a broad range of advocacy groups to voice their opposition once again.

“No matter how you cut it,” said said Daniel Raichel, an attorney with the Nature Program at NRDC, “a Bayer/Monsanto merger spells higher costs for farmers and locks in the chemical-heavy agricultural practices that threaten our health and the bees and other pollinators critical to food security.”

“The Department needs to reverse course and block the merger before we all suffer the consequences,” he said.

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Categories: Food and Farming

We need you there! August 16th, 5-6pm…. West County Winery Event Ordinance Discussion

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 15:56
West County Winery Event Ordinance Discussion We know the wine industry will  be out in force. Don’t let West County neighborhoods be the next collateral damage in the “Wine Wars”. The wine industry has been in an “arms” race to build more tasting rooms, more events, more tourism, more food and wine pairings and in your back yard. Where is the balance? Roads are crumbling, traffic getting impossible, income inequality rising, groundwater so severely over pumped that the state has now declared our county basins to have high priority. Childhood cancer rates soaring to 3rd highest in state for “Sustainable Sonoma”. We’ve paid the cost for their success.    There is NO BALANCE of interests, everything is weighted to the industrialization of our ag lands. 4% of our food is grown here, 96% is imported so are we an agriculture community or just alcohol growers? This is NOT ag promotion. Please come and give the supervisors some input that we have had enough before West County looks like traffic jammed Sonoma or Healdsburg.   The wine industry thinks they deserve more and more, when does it end? Central California wine regions are localizing tasting rooms and event centers to downtown areas but not in Sonoma County. If your want your neighborhood to stay a community, time to get to this meeting.     You’re invited! Please join west county constituents and Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins for a public meeting and discussion on the county’s winery event ordinance. The ordinance is still being amended by county staff. The Board of Supervisors expects to hold a public hearing on this initiative during the first quarter of 2019. In the mean time, Supervisor Hopkins would like to hear west county opinions, thoughts, concerns and more about the proposed ordinance. Learn more about the county’s winery event permitting process here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Regulations/Winery-Events/. [707.565.2241]  [ lynda.hopkins@sonoma-county.org]  [ sonomacounty.ca.gov] County
Categories: Food and Farming

Foxconn Gets a Pollution Pass for Its Wisconsin Factory

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 15:53
With friends like this who needs enemies? Foxconn Gets a Pollution Pass for Its Wisconsin Factory

Factory

Trump and Walker OK Plant Pumping Clean Lake Michigan Water and Then Dumping Polluted Water Back

By Sarah Okeson

Get paid to pollute!

That’s the unspoken new policy of the Trump administration and its ally in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker. Their administrations are giving environmental protection waivers together with billions of dollars in subsidies to Foxconn, the giant Taiwan manufacturer best known for assembling iPhones.

Foxconn will be allowed to suck up to 7 million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan and then dump that water, which may be laced with pollutants from making liquid crystal display panels, back into the lake.

Local officials are aghast. They understand the dangers to health and tourism if America goes back to the pre-Nixon policies of treating the Great Lakes as an industrial toxic waste pond.

Foxconn has not revealed what toxic metals and chemicals will be used but said it plans to distill the water it uses to decrease water use and recycle water.

The Trump administration helped arrange a $10 billion deal for Foxconn, which has started construction in Mount Pleasant, a Racine County village of about 26,000 people. If fully built out the industrial complex would be three times the size of the Pentagon.

Gov. Walker exempted the Foxconn factory from any major environmental review. Last-minute changes by Trump political appointees at the EPA could keep Foxconn from making expensive improvements to reduce smog. Action Box/What You Can Do About It

Call EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler at 202-564-4700 to tell him your thoughts about protecting our Great Lakes or write him at EPA Headquarters / William Jefferson Clinton Building / 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW / Mail Code: 1101A / Washington, D.C. 20460

Midwest Environmental Advocates can be reached at 608-251-5047 or advocate@midwestadvocates.org

“We can protect our natural resources and support job creation at the same time,” said Ann Hasenberg, a Walker spokeswoman.

These pro-pollution favors are being challenged in court by Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general.

Walker met with billionaire Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, in April 2017 in the office of Trump’s chief of staff. That meeting came just days after a White House aide called an executive at a Wisconsin economic development organization. The meeting between the two has been portrayed as part of the romance between Foxconn and Wisconsin that the company and the state claim will bring up to 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin. Notice that “up to.”

But the legalese and fine print underlying the deal suggest that Gou was more interested in how best to exploit our nation’s Great Lakes, home to a fifth of the world’s surface fresh water. Mount Pleasant is a “straddling community” only partly in the Great Lakes basin. Such communities can tap water from the Great Lakes provided the water is used “solely for public water supply purposes.”

Wisconsin, known under Walker for rarely enforcing its own standards for industrial water pollution, approved using water from Lake Michigan for the 22-million-square-foot industrial complex’s water needs.

Local officials understand the dangers if America goes back to treating the Great Lakes as an industrial toxic waste pond.

An LCD plant coats glass sheets with dozens of layers of thin material that conduct electricity. Washing the glass as each layer is applied uses millions of gallons of water.

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources brought in a manager to oversee quick environmental permitting for Foxconn.

“We can get these jobs going on the ground and still have the environmental protection – and I will even say enhancement – as a result of this project,” Cathy Stepp, then the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said in 2017.

Stepp, who campaigned for Trump, later joined the EPA and is now a regional administrator in the Midwest for the EPA where her duties will include overseeing some of the chemicals used at Foxconn. The former deputy secretary at the Wisconsin DNR, Kurt Thiede, is now Stepp’s chief of staff.

Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers said it had no jurisdiction over wetlands that would be filled. Wisconsin gave up state authority over wetlands on the Foxconn property.

“Right now, we don’t have any authority on the site,” said Todd Vesperman, a Corps section chief.

Featured image: Polluted water at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China (2012 photo by Jordan Pouille)

Categories: Food and Farming

CELDF Press Release: Columbus, OH, City Council Votes to Advance Fossil Fuel Extraction Ban to Ballot

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:31
CELDF’s Ohio community organizer, Tish O’Dell, stated, “We have seen Ohio Boards of Elections across the state attempt to stymie the people’s democratic rights by blocking qualified citizen initiatives from the ballot. All eyes are on the Franklin County BOE. The CCBOR is made up of dedicated and passionate residents of Columbus, committed to protecting their community. Columbus residents have a constitutional right to vote on their own initiatives.” Press Release: Columbus, OH, City Council Votes to Advance Fossil Fuel Extraction Ban to Ballot The people’s initiative codifies the right to clean water, air, and soil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
440-552-6774
tish@celdf.org

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Last week, Columbus City Council approved a citizen initiative entitled the Community Bill of Rights for Water, Soil, and Air Protection and to Prohibit Gas and Oil Extraction and Related Activities and Projects Ordinance. The measure qualified for the ballot with 12,134 valid signatures – well over the minimum required.

Since 2014, the Columbus Community Bill of Rights (CCBOR) group has worked with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a national public interest law firm. CELDF works with communities across the country to advance, protect, and defend communities’ democratic and environmental rights. CCBOR formed when they learned the Ohio EPA permitted radioactive fracked gas solid waste to be processed and “beneficially” used along the banks of the Alum Creek without testing for radioactivity. They also discovered there are 13 active oil and gas waste injection wells near the City’s drinking water source.

Last week’s milestone comes following two previous attempts by CCBOR to qualify their measure. During their first attempt, the City Council supported changes to the City Charter making it more difficult to qualify citizen initiatives. On their second attempt the group collected over 13,500 signatures; however, following the BOE validation process they were short the required number of signatures. As supporters overcame these hurdles, they expanded their education and outreach to engage with more residents, educating them on the threats posed by radioactive waste from fossil fuel extraction. During their three attempts, CCBOR members gathered more than 44,000 signatures.

The final step to place the initiative on the ballot is for the County Board of Elections to take their vote.

CELDF’s Ohio community organizer, Tish O’Dell, stated, “We have seen Ohio Boards of Elections across the state attempt to stymie the people’s democratic rights by blocking qualified citizen initiatives from the ballot. All eyes are on the Franklin County BOE. The CCBOR is made up of dedicated and passionate residents of Columbus, committed to protecting their community. Columbus residents have a constitutional right to vote on their own initiatives. They have a right to clean water, air and soil. Let them vote in November.”

Ohio Communities Part of Growing Movement

Ohio residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights.

Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable. Ohio joins state Community Rights Networks in Oregon, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, where residents are advancing Community Rights state constitutional amendments.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding petitioning communities, contact CELDF at info@celdf.org. To learn about the Ohio Community Rights Network, visit ohiocrn.org. To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit www.celdf.org.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

Categories: Food and Farming

Sept. 8 – Get on the bus with us! to #RiseForClimate March!

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:24
Sept. 8 – Get on the bus with us! to #RiseForClimate March!

SIGN UP FOR THE BUS FROM SONOMA COUNTY & MARIN

TO THE MARCH!

 

Sept. 8 – RISE FOR CLIMATE, JOBS AND JUSTICE IN SF

 

Over 150 organizations have already signed on in Northern California alone – and even as far away as LA – for the march just prior to the Global Climate Action Summit to march for climate, social justice, immigration, indigenous rights and much, much more. Get on the bus and come with us to the march! Let’s overflow the streets!

 

http://bit.ly/sonmarinrise

 

“The data are clear: When people rely on civil resistance, their size grows.

And when large numbers of people withdraw their cooperation from an oppressive system, the odds are ever in their favor.” – Erica Chenoweth, TEDxBoulder

Also, be sure to RSVP at http://CA.RiseForClimate.org to be counted!

Sign up your organization!
http:://bit.ly/carise-org

We will #RiseForClimate – Share the Facebook event! 

 

http://bit.ly/rise4climate

Categories: Food and Farming

Back to School brings concerns about pesticide exposure

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 10:17
Back to School brings concerns about pesticide exposure

By Megan Kaun and Nichole Warwick

We live in a beautiful region with idyllic farms and open space. Though occasionally inconvenienced by farm operations; strong smells, bright lights, loud noises, it’s a small price to pay to live in a rural community. However, being exposed to toxic chemicals from pesticide drift at our homes and schools is an entirely different matter.

New information about pesticide use has been released by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) for 100 public schools and preschools in Sonoma County, which lie within 1/4 mile of farms using pesticides.

 

Megan Kaun

This data shows us that many toxic pesticides are being used in very close proximity to schools. It also provides an opportunity to engage in an informed conversation with schools and farmers.

 

Vineyards dominate agriculture near schools, and the vast majority (98%[1]) of Sonoma County vineyard land is managed using synthetic pesticides. Though the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association has a goal to certify all vineyards “Sonoma Sustainable” by 2019[2], certification does not require vineyards to reduce pesticide use[3].

Pesticides, including weed killers (herbicides), insecticides, and fungicides[4] are used commonly in Sonoma County. Synthetic or man-made pesticides are long-lasting toxicants in the environment and are linked to many human health problems[5].

 

The most commonly-used herbicide in Sonoma County is glyphosate, a synthetic weed killer found in products like RoundUp. The World Health Organization has stated that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans[6], especially non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma[7].

Many other pesticides commonly used near schools in Sonoma County are considered “Bad Actors” by the Pesticide Action Network because they are known carcinogens, reproductive or developmental toxicants, or neurotoxins[8].

Nichole Warwick,

Children are particularly vulnerable[1] to the impacts of toxic exposure, including lower IQs, birth defects, developmental delays, Autism, ADHD, and cancer[2]. Immediate effects of pesticide exposure can mimic allergies or viral/bacterial infections and include headaches, difficulty breathing, dizziness or confusion, unusual behaviors and sensory sensitivities.[3]

 

It’s worrisome that Sonoma County has the 3rd highest childhood cancer rate of California’s 58 counties, according to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. (Humboldt is 1st, Solano is 2nd, and Sonoma is tied with Napa for 3rd.)[4]

 

New 2018 CDPR state regulations[5] are aimed to protect children at schools by prohibiting fumigants and sprayed pesticides within 1/4 mile of a school during school hours. Farmers must also disclose to schools which pesticides may be used during the year.

These rules fall short in protecting children from exposures outside school hours and from pesticide drift beyond ¼ mile.

Pesticides applied to crops, especially sprayed pesticides can drift 1 mile or more[6] from where they were applied. Research has shown that 95-98% of applied pesticides can miss their intended mark. Drifting pesticides are often invisible, odorless, and can be present for weeks or months[7].

 

Though the new regulations require farms to tell schools which chemicals they may use, schools are not required to disclose this information. We think parents have a right to know what chemicals may be drifting into their school yards and have made the new data available at the website below:

http://www.conservationaction.org/news/toxicfree/XXX

Sonoma County Conservation Action launched its campaign for a Toxic Free Future last year to get pesticides out of schools, parks, and other public spaces. Since then, Santa Rosa City Schools has stopped using all synthetic weed-killers, and Santa Rosa, Windsor, and County of Sonoma Agencies have made strides to decrease pesticide use. With new school buffer zone rules and increased awareness around the dangers of pesticide drift, it’s time to start working toward reducing pesticide use around schools where our children may be exposed.

[1] https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Agriculture-Weights-and-Measures/Crop-Reports/

[1] https://sonomawinegrape.org/sustainability/

[1] https://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/certifiedsustainable_redandyellowlist.pdf

[1] https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dept/factshts/what2.pdf. Accessed July 17, 2018.

[1] http://www.panna.org/resources/kids-frontline

[1] http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf.

[1] https://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Does-Roundup-cause-cancer-Patient-s-case-13061244.php

[1] http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Docs/ref_toxicity7.html#BadActor. Accessed July 19, 2018.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/children/children-are-not-little-adults

[1] http://www.panna.org/human-health-harms/children. Accessed July 19 2018.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/recognition-and-management-pesticide-poisonings. Accessed July 18, 2018.

[1] kidsdata.org, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. Childhood Cancer Diagnoses accessed March 8 2017.Click here for article.

[1] https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/legbills/rulepkgs/16-004/16-004_final_text.pdf

[1] Cox, C. 1995. Indiscriminately from the skies. Journal of Pesticide Reform 15(1):2-6.

[1] http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/Drift_Issue%20brief_FINAL_1.pdf

Bios:

Megan Kaun is an Environmental Engineer with experience in water resources, environmental modeling, and remediation. She spearheaded SCCA’s Toxic Free Future campaign and serves on its board.  

Megan’s research on pesticide use in public spaces helped spearhead SCCA’s Toxic Free Future campaign. Through her work as vice-chair of Santa Rosa’s Board of Public Utilities (2013-2017), background in environmental remediation, and passion for keeping toxics away from kids, she has become a local leader in public landscape maintenance policy. Megan was born and raised in Sonoma County but spent her early career working as a hydraulic engineer/hydrologist on stream restoration and dredged material reuse projects for the Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago and San Francisco. She holds engineering degrees from Northwestern and Stanford.

Nichole Warwick, MA, is the Founding Executive Director of Families Advocating for Chemical & Toxics Safety (FACTS), the Environmental Health Program Manager for Daily Acts, a Board of Director Member and Secretary for Ceres Community Project, and a Person-Centered Expressive Arts Educator/Educational Therapist for the Reach Charter School.

Nichole is a mother, educator, and environmental health advocate. She has been working with youth and families for over 22 years in the fields of education and psychology. After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, Nichole was shocked to learn about the many environmental factors that contribute to environmental diseases such as cancers. In an effort to better understand the problems and protect herself, her children, and her students, she dove deep into research in environmental health. She now devotes herself to ensuring children grow up in safe and healthy environments.

Nichole is an award-winning educator and accomplished expressive arts facilitator with expertise in youth leadership and development. She works as a Person-Centered Expressive Arts Facilitator/Educator and Environmental Health Advocate. She works with The REACH Charter SchoolBioneers Collective Heritage InstituteJonas Family Fund & Daily Acts. She also serves on the Ceres Community Project’s Board of Directors as Secretary, Governance Committee Member, and Youth Development Committee Chair. Nichole absolutely loves being with youth in nature and helping cultivate the ecology of their imaginations!

Categories: Food and Farming

Letter to the editor: Pesticides Exposed

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:47
Compounds that include chlorpyrifos and glyphosate are commonly used locally. We call upon our local ag community to put our community’s health and safety over profits for true sustainability.  “ Pesticides Exposed 

Dear Editor:

The guilty verdict in the Monsanto case is a heads up for Sonoma County where thirty-seven tons of glyphosate were used on Sonoma County farms in 2016.

The prosecution revealed that Monsanto’s internal company documents proved “ that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.”

The same week, federal appeals court ordered the ban of widely used farm pesticide chlorpyrifos, citing long-standing evidence that even secondary exposure can harm children. Pesticide residues that parents unwittingly carry home on their clothes, tools, and skin can be culprits in damaging health.

Over 100 schools in Sonoma County are within 1/4 mile of a farm that uses pesticides. The majority of these farms are vineyards, which is worrisome because 98% of the vineyards in Sonoma County are treated with synthetic pesticides. 

Though the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association has a goal of certifying all vineyards as “Sonoma Sustainable” by 2019, certification does not require vineyards to reduce pesticide use.

Compounds that include chlorpyrifos and glyphosate are commonly used locally. We call upon our local ag community to put our community’s health and safety over profits for true sustainability.  

Reuben Weinzveg

 Padi Selwyn

Categories: Food and Farming

Sonoma County Housing Initiatives to Planning Commission August 30th (date changed)

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 15:24
Permit Sonoma staff will present a set of housing initiatives to the Planning Commission on August 30, 2018. (This item had previously been scheduled for August 23.) 

OPINION: Our Supervisors  think all development damage can be mitigated, nothing is ever a significant impact and continue to ignore the cumulative impacts of their decisions.  CEQA (California Environmental Act) is a nasty word that will make them cringe. Since the fires the supervisors have exempted environmental provisions in order to rush through housing. The plans being developed will have major implications for the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County and yet our county’s leaders want to rush through new development with little or no environmental studies or impacts. We are experiencing “disaster capitalism” with the fire being used as the excuse to do away with thoughtful planning for future generations. We all live in that lack of generational insight: traffic congestion, pollution from the alcohol farms (2 million pounds of chemicals a year in vineyards), housing prices skyrocketing due to the investor class (homes are investments not community) buying out our neighborhoods for weekend party/rentals. Our aquifers are being depleted at a rapid rate by the wine industry and our agricultural heritage is a joke. How can you call our county “agriculture” oriented when 96% of all our food is imported? You can’t live on wine. Will the supervisors listen to the community or their donors? D. Franklin Another opinion: What I am currently seeing around the county are large 50+ acre vineyards going in quickly. One in Petaluma, one in Sonoma Valley. Some of the vineyard
development costs came from Open Space District funds by eliminating housing. The reason for the rapid push is the landowners concern about WATER regulations and the 3 new groundwater regulatory bodies formed in
county. The landowners want their wells in now and their vineyards in the ground to justify their water use. I noted the expansion in the Carneros Winery claiming to use existing well with no environmental impact claimed. People should be filing complaint on all these permits against those water claims.
We’ve seen other counties with major groundwater damage from over farming. Unless groups file against these projects, there is no paper claim to
appeal their new or increased water usage IF our groundwater begins to suffer.  B. Cooper

Permit Sonoma staff will present a set of housing initiatives to the Planning Commission on August 30, 2018. (This item had previously been scheduled for August 23.) 

Staff completed an initial study for this project and determined that the adoption of the proposed code changes would not result in significant impacts on the environment and a Negative Declaration is appropriate. More information as well as an electronic version of the Negative Declaration will be available here: sonomacounty.ca.gov/HousingInitiatives

The first phase of the project involved code amendments designed to remove constraints to housing production. Those amendments were adopted by the Board of Supervisors in May. More information about the first phase can be found here: sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Regulations/Housing/News/Board-of-Supervisors-Approves-First-Set-of-Housing-Initiatives/

The Planning Commission staff report will be available for download the week of August 27 at the Housing Initiatives website

Please let us know what you think! You can email questions or comments to: HousingInitiatives@sonoma-county.org

Permit Sonoma is introducing a series of housing initiatives designed to reduce constraints and expand opportunities for housing development. You are receiving this email because you have expressed interest in receiving updates on these initiatives. 

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Categories: Food and Farming

Attention all Healdsburg neighbors: Planning for our future and your opportunity for input

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:46
To all OUR 95448 NEIGHBORS !

Next week Healdsburg has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to come together and contribute to a viable plan for a diverse and thriving community for today and future generations!

DON’T MISS THESE
2 TOWN MEETINGS
If you can’t make both at least come to one!

COMMUNITY INPUT NIGHT
Monday
AUG 13
6PM – 8PM
Healdsburg High School Gym
1024 Prince St. at Powell Ave

AND

The much anticipated presentation:
A SUSTAINABLE HEALDSBURG ROADMAP
Wednesday
AUG 15
6PM – 7:30PM
Healdsburg High School Gym
1024 Prince St. off Powell Ave

CHILDCARE & SPANISH TRANSLATION PROVIDED —BOTH NIGHTS

ARRIVE EARLY
Fresh baked BROWNIES for the first 50 people

* * * * * * * * * *
Details: The SDAT (Sustainable Design Assessment Team), is a program of the AIA (American Institute of Architects). The AIA has awarded the community a gift worth a half million dollars in expertise. On Monday a 9-member unbiased team of volunteer sustainability experts are arriving from all over the U.S. to help Healdsburg develop a sustainable roadmap to 2040. The hand-picked national team includes: a sustainability planner, an architectural preservationist, landscape and urban designers, an artist & public art consultant, a financial/economic analyst, and an affordable housing development consultant. https://www.healdsburg-sdat.org/aia-sdat-team.html

Event #1: Monday evening, Aug 13 after a busy day touring the town and pouring through documents we will all assemble in the HHS gym where SDAT team will listen to the dreams and concerns of people living and/or working in 95448. They will be listening for a spectrum of viewpoints. Your voice counts.

Event #2: Wednesday evening, Aug 15 This is the day we’ve been waiting for. Community members will return to the HHS gym to hear the Team’s initial recommendations. An expanded and detailed assessment will be published and shared with the community in a few months.

LEARN MORE
www.Healdsburg-SDAT.org
https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=healdsburg%20sdat

Read about SDAT
Healdsburg Tribune:
http://www.sonomawest.com/the_healdsburg_tribune/news/planning-for-the-future-sdat-coming-to-town-in-august/article_3c527726-90ea-11e8-b25a-e7018fef648f.html

http://www.sonomawest.com/the_healdsburg_tribune/opinion/editorials/commentary-how-did-we-get-here/article_794bfe8c-9bfc-11e8-83b0-5b1c9bef65f3.html

Sonoma County Gazette:
https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/locals-give-feedback-on-healdsburgs-future

https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/healdsburg-by-the-voices-of-healdsburg-august-2018

Merrilyn
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Categories: Food and Farming

Forest Unlimited: You are Invited to Court Hearing for Felta Creek logging, Fri, Aug 17, 3 pm

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:31
Forest Unlimited: You are Invited to Court Hearing for Felta Creek logging, Fri, Aug 17, 3 pm Friday Aug 17th 3:00 Courtroom 18 3055 Cleveland Ave Santa Rosa

Dear Forest Unlimited Supporters,

I think many of you might be interested in the court case where Friends of Felta Creek supported by Forest Unlimited are trying to prevent logging in the Felta Creek watershed protecting one of Russian River’s best refugia for coho salmon but also having severe safety issues for fire, school children, neighbors only use of steep, narrow winding roads. As I stated earlier in a Press Democrat news article, this logging plan is one of the worst that I have seen in decades due to the safety hazards and the myriad of adverse impacts. This court case will be heard this Friday, August 17th. We would like to fill the seats in the courtroom to show that the public is aware and interested in this case and would like to see an outcome that protects our shared resources. Thank you. Larry Hanson, Board President Forest Unlimited www.forestunlimited.org contact@forestunlimited  Court Dates Set

Friends of Felta Creek have challenged the approval of a logging plan 1-17-017 SON which will damage the salmon run in Felta Creek! Please attend these court dates if you can. Showing the judge that lots of people care about protecting Felta Creek and stopping this timber harvest plan can only strengthen our case. Dear Friends of Felta Creek,

  Our trial date is a week from today! I hope to see you there. Let’s pack that courtroom with supporters so that the judge sees how many people care about Felta Creek.    Friday Aug 17th 3:00 Courtroom 18 3055 Cleveland Ave Santa Rosa   Best wishes, Lucy Kotter Friends of Felta Creek, Watershed Coordinator
Categories: Food and Farming

Hurdles cleared on AB2975, the Wild Rivers “safety net” bill

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:14
Hurdles cleared on AB2975, the Wild Rivers “safety net” bill

July 20, 2018

 

by Steve Evans

AB 2975, the bill proposing a state safety net for federal wild and scenic rivers in California passed the California Assembly in late May and cleared the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in late June. Authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), the bill provides state protection for federal rivers if Congress or President Trump acts to remove a river from the federal system or weakens the protection provided by federal law.

In recent testimony before the Senate Natural Resources Committee, CalWild Rivers Program Director Steve Evans noted that “Far-sighted legislators protected these rivers for all Californians to enjoy, but they are threatened by the anti-environmental policies of the Republican-controlled Senate and the Trump regime.” He then urged approval of AB 2975 “to ensure the protection of this important legacy.”

Nate Rangel, President of California Outdoors (a business association of commercial whitewater outfitters), also testified in support of the bill, noting that “Federally protected whitewater rivers on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada alone generate more than $3.6 billion in outdoor recreation spending and support more than 100 outdoor recreation businesses.”

AB 2975 is aimed directly at past attempts by the House of Representatives to remove federal protection from a segment of the Merced Wild River to allow for expansion of McClure Reservoir. The proposed reservoir expansion would flood a segment of the river popular for whitewater boating, fishing, and hiking. The threatened segment also provides habitat for the rare Merced River salamander and is in part of the Merced River Wilderness Study Area. Given the anti-environmental policies of the current Republican majority in Congress and the Trump regime, conservationists fear new threats to already federally protected rivers and other wild places in California.

The bill requires the California Natural Resources Agency Secretary to hold a public meeting if Congress or President Trump were to eliminate or weaken protection for any of the 750 miles of federal wild and scenic rivers in California. The Secretary can then choose to administratively add the federal river to the state system. As amended in the Assembly, the Secretary’s authority to add a river to the state system and any protection afforded a river under the proposed statute sunsets as of Dec. 31, 2025. The California Legislature may then consider permanently adding any of these rivers to the state system through legislation.

The proposed state safety net applies to segments of some of California’s most popular white water rivers on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, including the Tuolumne, Merced, Kings, and Kern. Other federal rivers afforded a state safety net by AB 2975, include the Black Butte River, Middle Fork Feather River, Owens River Headwaters, Cottonwood Creek, Amargosa River, Big Sur River, Sisquoc River, Sespe Creek, Piru Creek, North Fork San Jacinto River and Fuller Mill Creek, Bautista Creek, and Palm Canyon Creek. AB 2975 does not apply to rivers that currently enjoy just state or dual federal-state protection.

Approval of AB 2975 by the Assembly came after many conservation groups, including CalWild, lobbied for its passage during the May 9th California Rivers Day at the state capitol. More than 50 conservation groups, outdoor recreation associations and businesses, and a Native American tribe support the bill. Initial opposition by agricultural and water development interests was largely neutralized after the bill was amended to include a sunset clause. With recent approval by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, the bill moves to Senate Appropriations. It must pass the full Senate before the legislative session ends on August 31.

Take action for this bill now here, and make a donation to CalWild’s Wild Rivers Project today.  California Wilderness Coalition:  The Tuolumne, Merced, Middle Fork, Kings, and Big Sur – these are just a few of the rivers that make up California’s 750 miles of federal Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Since taking office, Trump has slashed as many environmental protections as he can – now, it’s only a matter of time before he comes for our rivers. In fact, Trump has already begun chipping away at important water conservation laws like the Clean Waters Rule and the Stream Protection Rule.

That’s why, anticipating further setbacks, California Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) has introduced AB 2975. The bill would provide state protection for federal Wild and Scenic Rivers in California. Enacted 50 years ago, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides the strongest protection available for rivers nationwide.

AB 2975 directs the California Natural Resources Secretary to provide state protection for a federal Wild and Scenic River in case Congress or the president eliminates or reduces these protections. The bill would also provide state protection if either attempts to weaken the provision in the federal act that prohibits new dams, reservoirs, and diversions on a federal river.

We’ve already witnessed the damage this administration can do – threatening to reduce California’s national monuments just like it did with Utah’s Bears Ears, while proposing a significant increase in logging in our National Forests and opening up our coastal waters to oil drilling.

Categories: Food and Farming

Gene edited medicine & food: CRISPR causes greater genetic damage than previously thought

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 13:55
CRISPR causes greater genetic damage than previously thought

Published: 17 July 2018

Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute have discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. Potential consequences could include triggering cancer.

Reported on 16 July 2018 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study also revealed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

As usual we see far more honesty about the off-target effects of CRISPR from genetic engineers in the field of medical research than we see from the plant genetic engineers. However, the technique as used in plants is the same, as are the mechanisms of DNA repair. These off-target effects in food plants could have possible knock-on effects on food safety, including unexpected toxicity and allergenicity.Share

Caution required for using CRISPR in potential gene therapies – and food plants

CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the newest genome editing tools. It can alter sections of DNA in cells by cutting at specific points and introducing changes at that location. Already extensively used in scientific research, CRISPR/Cas9 has also been seen as a promising way to create potential genome editing treatments for diseases such as HIV, cancer or sickle cell disease. Such therapeutics could inactivate a disease-causing gene, or correct a genetic mutation. However, any potential treatments would have to prove that they were safe.

Previous research had not shown many unforeseen mutations from CRISPR/Cas9 in the DNA at the genome editing target site. To investigate this further the researchers carried out a full systematic study in both mouse and human cells and discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 frequently caused extensive mutations, but at a greater distance from the target site.

The researchers found many of the cells had large genetic rearrangements such as DNA deletions and insertions. These could lead to important genes being switched on or off, which could have major implications for CRISPR/Cas9 use in therapies. In addition, some of these changes were too far away from the target site to be seen with standard genotyping methods.

Prof Allan Bradley, corresponding author on the study from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is the first systematic assessment of unexpected events resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 editing in therapeutically relevant cells, and we found that changes in the DNA have been seriously underestimated before now. It is important that anyone thinking of using this technology for gene therapy proceeds with caution, and looks very carefully to check for possible harmful effects.”

Michael Kosicki, the first author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “My initial experiment used CRISPR/Cas9 as a tool to study gene activity, however it became clear that something unexpected was happening. Once we realised the extent of the genetic rearrangements we studied it systematically, looking at different genes and different therapeutically relevant cell lines, and showed that the CRISPR/Cas9 effects held true.”

The work has implications for how CRISPR/Cas9 is used therapeutically and is likely to re-spark researchers’ interest in finding alternatives to the standard CRISPR/Cas9 method for gene editing.

Prof Maria Jasin, an independent researcher from Memorial Slone Kettering Cancer Centre, New York, who was not involved in the study said: “This study is the first to assess the repertoire of genomic damage arising at a CRISPR/Cas9 cleavage site. While it is not known if genomic sites in other cell lines will be affected in the same way, this study shows that further research and specific testing is needed before CRISPR/Cas9 is used clinically.”

Food safety implications

Commenting on the findings, London-based molecular biologist Dr Michael Antoniou said, “The main point to bear in mind about CRISPR is that all events after the CRISPR has cut the DNA occur independently of the CRISPR and are due to the cell’s innate DNA repair machinery. Thus it doesn’t matter how much you tweak the CRISPR to make it more ‘specific’ – you’ll be faced with the same spectrum of downstream problems that are inherent to the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) DNA repair system.

“These findings also do not bode well for the other genome editing tools (TALENs, ZFNs), as presumably the same things will happen after they too have produced a double strand DNA break and the NHEJ repair pathway kicks in.

“In addition, these findings suggest that we need to re-visit/re-evaluate the outcomes from NHEJ DNA repair in general. Do the outcomes reported in this latest study with CRISPR-generated double strand breaks also occur when the DNA is cut by other means, e.g. radiation or mutagenic chemicals? Or do they occur only when double strand breaks are brought about by editing tools?”

Dr Antoniou pointed out that some of our food plants have been produced through the older methods of radiation- or chemical-induced mutagenesis and if similar genetic damage to that seen when using CRISPR also occurs with the older methods, this could have implications for the food safety of those plants.

The new paper:
Repair of double-strand breaks induced by CRISPR–Cas9 leads to large deletions and complex rearrangements
Michael Kosicki, Kärt Tomberg & Allan Bradley
Nature Biotechnology, 16 July 2018
https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.4192

Categories: Food and Farming

Handmaid Tale Redux: Glyphosate-based herbicide impairs female fertility – new study

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 09:38
Glyphosate-based herbicide impairs female fertility – new study Exposure to environmentally relevant doses of a glyphosate-based herbicide during pregnancy has been found not only to impair female fertility in rats, but to induce foetal growth retardation and malformations, including abnormally developed limbs, in their second-generation offspring.

Argentinian researchers tested the glyphosate-based herbicide – one commonly used in Argentina – in pregnant female rats at two doses, which were added to their food. The rats were mated and dosed from the 9th day after conception until their pups were weaned. This first generation of offspring and their offspring in turn (second generation) were followed and monitored for reproductive effects.

The lower dose of glyphosate tested, 2 mg/kg bw/day (2 mg per kg of bodyweight per day), was in the order of magnitude of the reference dose (RfD) of 1 mg/kg bw/day recently set for glyphosate by the US Environmental Protection Agency, based on industry’s developmental toxicity studies. The “reference dose” is the dose that is supposed to be safe to ingest on a daily basis over a lifetime.

The authors added that this dose is representative of the glyphosate residues found in soybean grains and is in the order of magnitude of the environmental levels detected in Argentina.

The higher dose of glyphosate, 200 mg of glyphosate/kg bw/day, was selected based on the industry-declared no-observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 1000 mg/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity established in rats. In other words, according to industry’s own tests, this dose should not have been toxic to the mothers and thus should not have harmed the foetuses. But harmful effects did occur.

In agreement with the results of the industry tests, glyphosate-based herbicide treatment did not produce signs of toxicity to the embryo or abnormal maternal or nursing behaviour. Also, it did not alter the body weight gain of the first generation female offspring, nor vaginal opening onset (an indicator of puberty).

However, although all glyphosate herbicide-exposed first generation female rats became pregnant, they had a lower number of implantation sites of fertilized eggs, compared with controls. The second generation offspring from both glyphosate herbicide-exposed groups showed delayed growth, evidenced by lower foetal weight and length, and a higher incidence of abnormally small foetuses.

Also, to the authors’ surprise, malformations (conjoined foetuses and abnormally developed limbs) were detected in the second generation of offspring from the higher dose of glyphosate herbicide group. Foetal abnormalities were found in 3 out of 117 foetuses, each one from different mothers within the first generation of offspring (i.e. 3 out of 13 litters were affected). A statistically significant correlation was found between glyphosate herbicide exposure and foetal malformations.

In conclusion, the study showed that exposure during pregnancy to low doses of glyphosate herbicide impaired female reproductive performance and induced foetal growth retardation and malformations in second-generation offspring. It also showed that the industry-declared no-observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 1000 mg/kg bw/day for maternal toxicity is not a reliable indicator of reproductive safety.

Findings reflected in other studies

Other research supports the new study findings that exposure to glyphosate herbicides can negatively affect birth outcomes.

The findings of malformations reflect epidemiological findings that people living in an Argentine town in the heart of the GM soy and maize growing area, where glyphosate-based herbicides are sprayed in large amounts, suffer birth defects at twice the national average rate.

In addition, a recent birth cohort study found a significant correlation between high glyphosate urine levels and shortened gestational lengths.

Other controlled laboratory in vivo studies cited by the authors of the new study reveal male and female reproductive development impairment from glyphosate-based herbicide exposure.

Perinatal exposure to a glyphosate-based herbicide impairs female reproductive outcomes and induces second-generation adverse effects in Wistar rats
María M. Milesi, Virginia Lorenz, Guillermina Pacini, María R. Repetti, Luisina D. Demonte, Jorgelina Varayoud, Enrique H. Luque
Archives of Toxicology, 9 June 2018
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00204-018-2236-6

Abstract

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are the most globally used herbicides raising the risk of environmental exposition. Here, we investigated whether perinatal exposure to low doses of a GBH alters the female reproductive performance, and/or induced second-generation effects related to congenital anomalies or growth alterations. Pregnant rats (F0) received a GBH through food, in a dose of 2 mg (GBH-LD: GBH-low dose group) or 200 mg (GBH-HD: GBH-high dose group) of glyphosate/kg bw/day from gestational day (GD) 9 until weaning. Body weight gain and vaginal canal-opening of F1 females were recorded. Sexually mature F1 females were mated to evaluate their reproductive performance by assessing the pregnancy rate, and on GD19, the number of corpora lutea, the implantation sites (IS) and resorption sites. To analyze second-generation effects on F2 offspring, we analyzed the fetal morphology on GD19, and assessed the fetal length and weight, and the placental weight. GBH exposure neither altered the body weight gain of F1 females, nor vaginal opening onset. Although all GBH-exposed F1 rats became pregnant, a lower number of IS was detected. F2 offspring from both GBH groups showed delayed growth, evidenced by lower fetal weight and length, associated with a higher incidence of small for gestational age fetuses. In addition, higher placental weight and placental index were found in F2 offspring from GBH-HD dams. Surprisingly, structural congenital anomalies (conjoined fetuses and abnormally developed limbs) were detected in the F2 offspring from GBH-HD group. In conclusion, perinatal exposure to low doses of a GBH impaired female reproductive performance and induced fetal growth retardation and structural congenital anomalies in F2 offspring.

Categories: Food and Farming

Brazil judge suspends use of agrochemical glyphosate

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 09:25
Brazil judge suspends use of agrochemical glyphosate

registrations will be suspended within the next 30 days

In an important development, a Brazilian judge has suspended the use of products containing the agrochemical glyphosate, a widely employed herbicide for GM soy and other crops in the country, according to legal filings.

A federal judge in Brasilia ruled that new products containing the chemical could not be registered in the country and existing registrations would be suspended within the next 30 days, until the government reevaluates their toxicology.

The decision, which could be subject to multiple appeals, also applies to the insecticide abamectin and the fungicide thiram.

The ruling affects companies such as Monsanto Co, which markets a glyphosate-resistant, genetically-modified type of soybean that is planted on a large scale in Brazil. Monsanto is now a unit of Bayer AG, following a $62.5 billion takeover of the U.S. seed major which closed in June.

Certain glyphosate-resistant corn and cotton strains have also been authorized in Brazil.

“I think the judge is wrong and that the decision will be revoked somehow,” said director Luiz Lourenço of agribusiness industry association Abag. “It is impossible to do agriculture without these products.”

Monsanto did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, driven largely by growing demand from China.

Last month, a federal judge in the United States ruled that hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto by cancer survivors or families of those who died can proceed to trial, finding there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases that blame the company’s glyphosate-containing weed-killer for the disease.

(Reporting by Roberto Samora and Jose Roberto Gomes Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by David Gregorio)

Source: Reuters https://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL1N1UX1AJ

 

Categories: Food and Farming

Appeals Court Tells EPA to Stop Sales of Harmful Pesticide

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 09:14
People over profits…..a win for the good guys. Appeals Court Tells EPA to Stop Sales of Harmful Pesticide The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to stop sales of a widely used pesticide within two months.

Aug. 10, 2018, at 12:17 a.m.

By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to stop sales of a widely used pesticide within 60 days.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping chlorpyrifos (klor-PEER’-ih-fahs) on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure could harm babies’ brains.

A group of farmworkers and environmental groups sued last year after then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era effort to ban the pesticide, which is sprayed on citrus fruit, apples and other crops. The attorneys general for states including California, New York and Massachusetts joined the case against EPA.

Chlorpyrifos was created by Dow Chemical Co. in the 1960s. It’s among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the U.S.

FROM PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK (PAN):

A neurotoxic organophosphate (OP) insecticide used in the production of fruits and vegetables throughout the U.S., chlorpyrifos has been widely studied for its neurodevelopmental effects on children.

Chlorpyrifos was prohibited for indoor home use in 2001, but it continues to be used in agricultural fields, with an estimated 8 million pounds applied annually. According to its manufacturer Dow, chlorpyrifos has been registered for use in 100 countries for over 50 crops. Legal action by PAN and our partners has forced EPA to revise its human health risk assessment for the chemical; in July 2015, the agency announced it would consider taking chlorpyrifos off the market. Health effects

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide known for its damaging effects on the human nervous system. Like all OPs, chlorpyrifos blocks an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that our brains need to control acetylcholine, one of the many neurotransmitters mediating communication between nerve cells. These neurological effects pose especially elevated risks for children as their brains and nervous systems develop.

Short-term symptoms of low-dose exposure may include headaches, agitation, inability to concentrate, weakness, tiredness, nausea, diarrhea and blurred vision. Higher doses can lead to respiratory paralysis and death. Pregnant women may also be more sensitive to chlorpyrifos toxicity according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In addition to the immediate effects of exposure, chlorpyrifos is linked to a number of serious longer term health impacts:
  • Adverse effects on neurodevelopment: There is a body of work around the negative impacts of chlorpyrifos (and other organophosphates) on various aspects of cognitive development. Chlorpyrifos has been well-studied in animal models and has been shown to cause a range of neurodevelopmental effects, such as impacting genes that control essential processes in developing brain cells. Exposure to low levels of chlorpyrifos or organophosphates has been shown to negatively impact various aspects of cognitive development in humans in several studies.
    • In California’s Salinas Valley, a UC Berkeley study found that the group exposed to the highest levels of organophosphate during pregnancy was associated with a 7-point drop in IQ scores in 7-year-olds.
    • A Columbia University study found decreases in full-scale IQ and working memory of 7-year-olds associated with tiny increases in prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos. Another study of the same group found that 3-year-old children with higher prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos were more likely to experience delays in development, attention problems, ADHD problems and pervasive developmental disorder problems.
    • A UC Davis study found that mothers who live within a mile of fields where chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides were applied had a 60 percent higher chance of having children with autism spectrum disorder. The link between autism and pesticides may be that gestational exposures tip the balance towards increasing autism risk.
    • In addition, a recent study found associations between exposure to chlorpyrifos and changes to the architecture of the brain in 7-year old children.
  • Reduced birth size: A study on pregnant women exposed to chlorpyrifos through home insecticide use demonstrated a link between in utero exposure to chlorpyrifos and decreased birth length and decreased birth weight. These effects on size were no longer significant in newborns born after 2001, when indoor residential use of chlorpyrifos was phased out.
  • Endocrine disruption: Chlorpyrifos is also a suspected endocrine-disrupting compound. Sex-specific behaviors in mice can be altered by chlorpyrifos exposure, with these neuroendocrine-disrupting effects affecting mice differently depending on their sex. Moderate doses have been shown to alter hormone levels in other animal studies.
  • Lung and prostate cancer: While EPA lists chlorpyrifos as providing evidence of no carcinogenicity, recent studies suggest possible links to both lung and prostate cancer.
Exposure

Humans can breathe or be exposed to dust from chlorpyrifos that drifts from nearby fields into homes and schools. A 2014 report from California’s Department of Public Health puts chlorpyrifos among the top 10 pesticides of concern most commonly used within ¼ mile of schools in the state.

In our bodies
Human exposure to chlorpyrifos is evidenced by its presence in our bodies. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed chlorpyrifos breakdown products in 93 percent of U.S. residents sampled between 1999 and 2002.

Children carry particularly high levels of chlorpyrifos — almost twice those of adults, the CDC study showed. Chronic exposure levels were 4.6 times the “acceptable” level for children (6–11 years) and 3.0 times the “acceptable” level for youth (12–19 years) (See: Chemical Trespass). Farmers, pesticide applicators and chlorpyrifos manufacturing workers likewise carry a greater body burden of the neurotoxic insecticide.

Food and water
People are also exposed to chlorpyrifos from residue on common foods such as apples, peaches and sweet peppers. Chlorpyrifos contamination of drinking water is also of concern; the state of Minnesota has named the pesticide a “chemical of concern” for this reason, and the U.S. EPA noted that chlorpyrifos use poses “drinking water exposure concerns in small sensitive watersheds.”

Drift
Like most organophosphates, chlorpyrifos is prone to drift. The semi-volatile chemical readily evaporates from leaf and soil surfaces to become airborne, especially when outdoor temperatures are high. Once in gas form, the neurotoxicant can migrate to nearby homes and schools — exposing residents and their children.

A drift study in Lindsay, California, demonstrated the presence of chlorpyrifos in the air near or at homes in this agricultural community. Over 100 air samples were collected near homes and three-quarters of the samples had detectable levels. Only 11 percent of the samples were above the levels determined to be at an “acceptable” level for a 24-hour exposure by children. The highest concentration observed was nearly eight times the acceptable level. There is no legal standard for pesticide levels in the air — only reference or regulatory target levels.

California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) 2014 air monitoring data found chlorpyrifos in 26 percent of the year’s samples from three sites.

Poisonings

Among pesticide poisoning cases, chlorpyrifos is a frequent culprit. From 1997 to 2000, chlorpyrifos drift from agricultural fields resulted in group poisonings in California’s Ventura, Tulare, Merced and Madera counties. More recent cases have been reported in the period from 1998–2006.

For more on chlorpyrifos poisonings and drift see: Fields of Poison 2002: California Farmworkers and Pesticides.

Environmental impacts

For animals that are highly sensitive to chlorpyrifos, exposure to minute concentrations can be lethal. EPA indicates that a single application of chlorpyrifos poses significant risks — especially to endangered species. Fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles and small mammals, as well as bees and other beneficial insects are vulnerable to the potent insecticide.

Chlorpyrifos is moderately persistent in soil and can take weeks to years to break down. The insecticide can also reach rivers, lakes and streams, where it concentrates in the fatty tissue of fish. According to the National Water Quality Assessment Program, chlorpyrifos contaminated surface water in urban and agricultural streams at levels potentially harmful to aquatic life.

Chlorpyrifos can also travel long distances to remote areas far from its source. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program reported the presence of chlorpyrifos in a number of locations:

  • Surface water, ice, & fog from the Bering & Chukchi Seas
  • Alaskan snow and fish from Alaskan parks
  • Arctic & subarctic Canadian lakes

This contamination from transport has driven proposals to consider chlorpyrifos for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Resources

PAN Pesticide Info Database
PAN What’s On My Food
PAN Chlorpyrifos Factsheet
NPIC on chlorpyrifos
EPA on chlorpyrifos

Categories: Food and Farming

Sonoma County Water Coalition: Technical Session will take place on August 22 at 6:30 PM

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:54

Learn how to map and research resources in the Bay Area. This is a unique opportunity to get hands on learning tools for your community.

Sonoma County Water Coalition, 55 Ridgeway, Santa Rosa

Adam Garcia and Teri Shore will talk about and demonstrate Greenprint; the computer portal for the County’s LIDAR-based resource data. Planners use the Bay Area Greenprint to build natural resource conservation into their policies and plans. Brought to you by The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, Bay Area Open Space Council, Greenbelt Alliance, and GreenInfo Network. 

What is the Bay Area Greenprint?

The Bay Area Greenprint brings together a wide range of data to help you discover and highlight many potential benefits from the non-built environment, across a range of themes: Biodiversity & Habitat, Agriculture, Water, Carbon, and Recreation. For examples and more info see: https://www.bayareagreenprint.org/

The Bay Area Greenprint brings together a wide range of data to help you discover and highlight the overlapping benefits from the non-built environment including:

Biodiversity, Habitat, Agriculture, Water, Carbon, and Recreation.

It provides planners, conservation practitioners, and community members with a way to sort through the mountains of information available and gives a more complete understanding of the costs and benefits of decisions made around open space, agricultural lands, and development throughout the Bay Area. The Bay Area Greenprint is a powerful tool for advocates and planners, helping to define strategies and priorities. And in support of the open and democratic exchange of ideas, it is available for free.

Click here to start using the Bay Area Greenprint today and check this page for learning opportunities.

The Bay Area Greenprint is a collaboration of The Nature Conservancy, Bay Area Open Space Council, American Farmland Trust, Greenbelt Alliance, and GreenInfo Network. Funding is provided by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Photo: Patrick Smith via Flickr

 

Categories: Food and Farming

‘Moving in the Right Direction,’ Mexican President-elect AMLO Promises to Outlaw Fracking

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:42
What real leadership looks like…… ‘Moving in the Right Direction,’ Mexican President-elect AMLO Promises to Outlaw Fracking

Environmentalists are urging him to “move even farther by pledging to transition Mexico to a fully clean, renewable energy future.”

Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, attended a rally in 2013. (Photo: ProtoplasmaKid/Wikimedia/cc)

Mexico’s President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, whose victory last month left many hopeful for the nation’s next chapter, elicited praise from environmentalists for promising Wednesday to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting natural gas that’s often called fracking.

“This is the climate leadership we need,” declared 350.org.

The “plan to ban fracking in Mexico represents the latest common-sense decision by a world leader to prohibit this inherently toxic, polluting practice,” Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter told DeSmog.

“[The] plan to ban fracking in Mexico represents the latest common-sense decision by a world leader to prohibit this inherently toxic, polluting practice.”
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch“President-elect Obrador is moving in the right direction on many issues, including energy and the environment,” Hauter added. “He can move even farther by pledging to transition Mexico to a fully clean, renewable energy future, thereby setting a remarkable example for its neighbors to the north.”

López Obrador, who will take office Dec. 1, made the fracking announcement at a news conference on Wednesday. “We will no longer use that method to extract petroleum,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

He also railed against the 2013 privatization of oil and gas reserves that had long been controlled by the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), declaring, “The neoliberal governments deliberately closed the CFE plants in order to buy electricity from foreign companies at very high prices… All of that will be corrected.”

While Hauter called on AMLO to usher in a new era of clean energy, as the Washington Post reported Wednesday, “In recent days, López Obrador has said he would invest $9.4 billion in the state-owned sector, including two new oil refineries and the renovation of six existing ones.”

Thomas Tunstall, research director for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute of Economic Development, pointed out to DeSmog that Mexico “has substantial untapped conventional oil and gas reserves.” He also posited that the nation will continue constructing natural gas pipelines because they “are much less expensive that the alternative of shipping it in via LNG tankers.”

Amid celebrations of AMLO’s vow to ban fracking, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a New York-based biologist and anti-fracking activist, noted the president-elect’s oil plans and urged him to listen to Mexico’s anti-pipeline activists who are “risking life and freedom” in their fight against dirty energy:

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Categories: Food and Farming

Trump Administration Moves to Reopen California Public Lands to Oil Leasing

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:31
“This step toward opening our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling is part of the Trump administration’s war on California,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We desperately need to keep these dirty fossil fuels in the ground. But Trump is hell-bent on sacrificing our health, wildlife and climate to profit big polluters.” Trump Administration Moves to Reopen California Public Lands to Oil Leasing

Process Could End 5-year Moratorium on Leasing Federal Land to Oil Companies

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— The Trump administration today took the first step in a process that could open more than a million acres of public land and mineral estate in central California to oil drilling and fracking. The move could end a five-year-old moratorium on leasing federal public land in the state to oil companies.

Today’s notice from the Bureau of Land Management seeks comments on the potential harms of fracking in 400,000 acres of public land and an additional 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.

“This step toward opening our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling is part of the Trump administration’s war on California,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We desperately need to keep these dirty fossil fuels in the ground. But Trump is hell-bent on sacrificing our health, wildlife and climate to profit big polluters.”

In 2015 the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, represented by Earthjustice, successfully sued the BLM for approving a resource management plan allowing oil and gas drilling and fracking on vast stretches of California’s public lands without adequately analyzing and disclosing the impacts of fracking on air quality, water and wildlife.

As a result of the groups’ legal victory, the BLM agreed to complete a new analysis of the pollution risks of fracking before deciding whether to allow drilling and fracking on public land across California’s Central Valley, the southern Sierra Nevada and in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

The BLM has not held a single lease sale in California since 2013 when a federal judge first ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental dangers of fracking.

Fracking is an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts toxic chemicals mixed with water underground to crack rocks. The public lands at stake encompass “numerous groundwater systems that contribute to the annual water supply used by neighboring areas for agricultural and urban purposes,” a federal judge noted in 2016.

A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of chemicals, including substances dangerous to human health and the environment.

Today’s announcement comes after San Luis Obispo residents, concerned about the harms fracking poses to their county, placed a voter initiative on the November election ballot. If passed, Measure G will ban fracking and new oil and gas wells in San Luis Obispo County.

“It’s great that BLM is finally going to look at this problem,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney at Earthjustice. “But analyzing the impacts of fracking is like analyzing the impacts of smoking cigarettes: there’s really no question that more fracking would be terrible for California.”

The BLM’s 30-day comment period for the proposal begins today.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Legal Action Challenges Trump Reversal of Prohibition on Bee-killing Pesticides, Genetically Modified Crops on National Wildlife Refuges

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:24
Does this administration do anything right for the environment or people? It’s all about corporate profits at our expense. Thank you Center for Biological Diversity. Please consider a donation to help their great work. “It’s shameful that the Trump administration is promoting greater use of highly toxic agricultural pesticides on America’s wildlife refuges,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These special places were set aside to shelter America’s wildlife, not protect row-crop agriculture that relies on dangerous chemicals known to harm animals.” Legal Action Challenges Trump Reversal of Prohibition on Bee-killing Pesticides, Genetically Modified Crops on National Wildlife Refuges

For Immediate Release, August 8, 2018

Contact: Hannah Connor, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org
George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety, (971) 271-7372, gkimbrell@centerforfoodsafety.org WASHINGTON— Conservation groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for suddenly reversing a 2014 decision prohibiting bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides and genetically modified, pesticide-resistant crops on national wildlife refuges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s acting director unilaterally withdrew the 2014 agency decision last week without first assessing threats to protected plants and animals on or around the wildlife refuges, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The policy reversal means that national wildlife refuges are now immediately authorized to allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides despite their well-documented harm to endangered wildlife like the red knot, American burying beetle, Rio Grande silvery minnow and many other imperiled animals and plants.

“It’s shameful that the Trump administration is promoting greater use of highly toxic agricultural pesticides on America’s wildlife refuges,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These special places were set aside to shelter America’s wildlife, not protect row-crop agriculture that relies on dangerous chemicals known to harm animals.”

Today’s notice from the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety highlights that the Service reversed its 2014 decision without first studying the risks of increased pesticide use to the imperiled species that rely on national wildlife refuges for food, habitat and protection.

“The Trump administration’s opening of national wildlife refuge lands to GMOs and neonicotinoids is outrageous and unlawful,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety legal director. “These are crucial wildlife sanctuaries, not to be sold to pad the bottom line of pesticide companies.”

Background
The 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prohibit genetically modified crops and neonicotinoid pesticides on wildlife refuges was the result of a 10-year Center for Food Safety-led campaign, including multiple lawsuits successfully challenging the planting of genetically modified crops at refuges around the country from 2005 to 2014.

In 2012 a federal court formally halted the planting of the genetically altered crops on all national wildlife refuges in the southeastern United States and ordered steps to mitigate environmental damage from their previous illegal cultivation. And in 2011 Center for Food Safety secured a legal settlement ending planting of genetically modified crops on refuges throughout the 12-state northeast region.

A growing body of research has found that neonicotinoid pesticides are highly toxic to pollinators and one of the leading causes of the current bee population collapse. The Trump administration’s decision to allow use of genetically modified seeds on wildlife refuges will spur greater use of highly toxic pesticides, a practice that scientists have said will result in increased harm to not only pollinators, but birds, aquatic animals and other wildlife.

Most genetically altered crops are designed to be resistant to herbicides like glyphosate and dicamba, which allows farmers to increase use of these pesticides in the summer months when many animals are out foraging. For example, glyphosate use on genetically altered crops has significantly contributed to the monarch butterflies’ 80 percent decline over the past two decades because the pesticide kills milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consult with federal wildlife biologists on the harm of its actions to threatened and endangered species. Today’s 60-day notice of intent to sue is required before a lawsuit can be filed to compel the federal government to comply with the Act.

Red knot photo by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Food Safety’s mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. Please join our more than 950,000 advocates across the country at www.centerforfoodsafety.org. Twitter: @CFSTrueFood, @CFS_Press

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