Tag Archives: Pesticide

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EPA Stops Use of Pesticide Deemed Harmful to Children

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer permit the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food. The organophosphate insecticide, which is used on fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, row crops and other agriculture, has been linked with neurotoxicity in children.

“Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan in an agency news release. “After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

The EPA also issued a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of the pesticide.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Food Fraud, Fruit Fraud

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Even unprocessed fruit can be a target for food fraudsters. Fraudulent fruit does not only damage a company’s brand, but it also may have pesticide and other residue levels above the permitted limit. Counterfeit branding and packaging was used in exports of 2 tons of lemons from China. It is not the first time that such fraud happened and the affected company won a lawsuit earlier this year. To prevent such mislabeling in the future, the company finally registered its brand with Chinese authorities.


  1. Phil Taylor (August 6, 2020) “Counterfeit Unifrutti lemons seized in China”. Securing Industry.


Eating Organic Produce Lowers Pesticide Exposure

A recent study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, concluded that we consume fewer pesticides when we eat organic foods compared to their conventionally grown counterparts.

University of Washington’s Cynthia Curl and her fellow authors surveyed nearly 4,500 people about what they eat. They combined this information with average residue levels in those items from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program to estimate their intake of organophosphate pesticides (OPs). Organophosphates are a group of manufactured chemicals that are the most widely used insecticides today but are not allowed for use in organic farming.

Symptoms of sudden poisoning by organophosphates include headache, dizziness, weakness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, salivation, watery eyes and small pupils. Severe symptoms include seizures, slow pulse, difficulty breathing and coma.

Long-term exposure to organophosphates can cause confusion, anxiety, loss of memory, loss of appetite, disorientation, depression and personality changes. After exposure, people can also develop nervous system problems such as muscle weakness and numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, and some studies in adults and children have linked organophosphate exposure to lymphoma and leukemia.

In their study, Curl and her team also collected urine samples from 720 people to test for dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites — common byproducts of the body metabolizing most OPs. DAP concentrations supported the estimated pesticide exposure, and the researchers also found that the 240 participants who said they ate more organic produce had “significantly lower” DAP concentrations.

This isn’t the first study relating to chemical residues and food consumption, but it is the first to include information on organic food consumption habits. “The food composition — chemical residue method described in the present study may prove useful in future epidemiological studies of long-term dietary OP exposure, particularly if paired with information on organic food consumption, which may modify the observed exposure-response relationship,” the authors wrote. “As concern grows regarding potential effects of low-level OP exposures, the need increases for more sophisticated exposure assessment methods.”

Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC
Biros' Blog

Bill 2491 – NIMBY Pesticides and GMOs

By Rick Biros
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Rick Biros, President/Publisher, Innovative Publishing Co. LLC

Kauai is the 4th largest island of Hawaii.  It is lush and green with a 12-month growing season. Kauai is also where many of the outdoor scenes were filmed for Jurassic Park, the movie where a science experiment ran amok.

Syngenta is the inventor and primary patent holder of the pesticide Atrazine. Syngenta’s host country Switzerland as well as the rest of the European Union prohibits the use of Atrazine. The CDC website says one of the primary ways that Atrazine can affect your health is by altering the way that the reproductive system works. Studies of couples living on farms that use Atrazine for weed control found an increase in the risk of pre-term delivery. According to the CDC, Atrazine caused liver, kidney, and heart damage in animals; it is possible that Atrazine could cause these effects in humans, although this has not been examined.

In 2006 and 2008, dozens of children and teachers at Waimea Canyon Middle School on Kauai were sickened and sent to local hospitals. Syngenta denied that the adjacent fields of experimental GMO corn and the related pesticide spraying was the culprit. The Hawaii State Teachers Association filed a temporary restraining order against Syngenta to force them to stop spraying next to the school. Once Syngenta stopped spraying those fields and since then there have been no further incidents. Atrazine and other chemicals have been found in the drainage ditches leading from the fields into coastal waters and residents on the west side of Kauai reported massive sea urchin die offs in coastal areas. Obstetricians, pediatricians and other local physicians have expressed concerns about what they believe to be unusually high levels of normally rare birth defects and certain types of cancers. Parents report their children have higher than normal incidents of nose bleeds and respiratory problems. All this has been reported in his blog by Gary Hooser, a Kauai council member who co-introduced Bill 2491, late last year. 

According to Hooser, Bill 2491 contains three basic provisions:

  1. Pesticide and GMO disclosure;
  2. Buffer zones around schools, hospitals and homes; and 
  3. A county sponsored and paid for comprehensive study of health and environmental impact. 

The Kauai County Council passed into law Bill 2491 after they overrode a veto from Kauai’s mayor. Bill 2491 does not ban pesticides nor does it ban GMOs, it simply requires disclosure according to Hooser. The mayor of Kauai is not the only local to oppose Bill 2491. Opponents say the studies that the county will pay for (through higher taxes), are redundant to EPA, USDA and FDA activities regarding the use of both GMO plants and pesticides.

On January 10th, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow filed suit trying to overturn Bill 2491 as being invalid. In a joint statement that was published in the Wall Street Journal they said “It (the bill) arbitrarily targets our industry with burdensome and baseless restrictions on farming operations by attempting to regulate activities over which counties in Hawaii have no jurisdiction.”

I don’t think the bill “arbitrarily” targets the pesticide and GMO industry. I think it specifically targets the pesticide and GMO industry and that local governments should have the ability to regulate pesticides and agricultural activity. It’s their backyard, it’s their health, their commerce (or lack there of), it’s their lives and they are willing to finance it. Simply, it’s their decision!

Bill 2491 almost seems like a local zoning law, however, and a lot of anti-GMO consumer activist groups have jumped on the Bill 2491 bandwagon and it has become a battle ground for the GMO companies who will not yield any ground to additional regulations for fear that the local movement on GMO zoning will snowball on them. Perhaps this is why Bill 2491 is dubbed “The Pesticide Bill” by the local media, but The Huffington Post calls the same bill the “GMO Bill.” 

General Mills, Post and Kellogg’s have all announced non-GMO versions of their core brands of cereals. Why? Because there is a market for them! The organic market continues to gain market share, with food processors and retailers helping accelerate the growth. Kauai happens to have a fairly large organic farming community, which is at risk from cross contamination from experimental GMO plants that are being sprayed with pesticides to determine the amount of pesticides needed. This is a point that even Hooser failed to point out.

I am not opposed to all GMOs and feel they offer certain benefits (drought resistance for example) that should be utilized when appropriate. However, the use of GMOs for the sole purpose of selling more pesticides is not something I support. And if I felt threatened by them, I’d like to have the ability, with the consensus of my community, to prevent them from being used in or very near my backyard.

1. CDC’s website with Atrazine information, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/PHS/PHS.asp?id=336&tid=59