Zee Krstic, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
Each spring, the Environmental Working Group (also known as the EWG) publishes a list of fruits and vegetables that experts at the nonprofit say contain elevated levels of pesticides that may be concerning. Now known as the Dirty Dozen list to health experts and in-the-know shoppers, the list has long called conventional farming methods into question, especially as the EWG also publishes a competing list called the Clean Fifteen that highlights produce containing little to no pesticides when grown conventionally.
Read more at https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a31916678/dirty-dozen-foods-2020-list/
Associated Press, THE GUARDIAN
Study finds 29,000 butterflies, compared with 4.5 million during the 1980s, as experts point to habitat destruction
The western monarch butterfly population wintering along California’s coast remains critically low for the second year in a row, a count by an environmental group released Thursday showed.
The count of the orange-and-black insects by the Xerces Society, a not-for-profit environmental organization that focuses on the conservation of invertebrates, recorded about 29,000 butterflies in its annual survey. That’s not much different than last year’s tally, when an all-time low 27,000 monarchs were counted.
“We had hoped that the western monarch population would have rebounded at least modestly, but unfortunately it has not,” said Emma Pelton, a monarch conservation expert with the Xerces Society.
By comparison, about 4.5 million monarch butterflies wintered in forested groves along the California coast in the 1980s. Scientists say the butterflies are at critically low levels in the Western US due to the destruction of their milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expands into their territory and use of pesticides and herbicides increases.
Researchers also have noted the effect of climate change. Along with farming, climate change is one of the main drivers of the monarch’s threatened extinction, disrupting an annual 3,000-mile migration synced to springtime and the blossoming of wildflowers.
Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/22/monarch-butterfly-population-decline-california-coast
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County supervisors are scheduled to consider a proposal Tuesday to ban synthetic pesticides on county property open to public use and in other “no synthetic spray zones” to be determined this year.
The proposal specifically precludes use of synthetic herbicides, insecticides and fungicides on county agency campuses, sidewalks, plazas, playing fields, playgrounds and county-maintained libraries.
It also would apply to Sonoma Water, the Agricultural and Open Space District, the Community Development Commission and the Transportation and Public Works Department, requiring them to eliminate pesticide use “to the maximum extent practicable.”
The Transportation and Public Works Department is experimenting with organic alternatives to manage roadside vegetation that poses a safety risk or can contribute to flooding, said Dan Virkstis, a department spokesman.
Private land would be exempt from the ban. The county is prohibited from regulating pesticide use on private property, a county staff report said.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9664243-181/sonoma-county-supervisors-eye-pesticide
Sudhin Thanawala, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal court jury on Wednesday awarded more than $80 million in damages to a Sonoma County man who blamed Roundup weed killer for his cancer, in a potential milestone case his attorneys say could help determine the fate of hundreds of similar lawsuits.
Edwin Hardeman proved that Roundup’s design was defective, it lacked sufficient cancer warnings and its manufacturer, agribusiness giant Monsanto, was negligent, the six-person jury in San Francisco found.
It awarded Hardeman more than $5 million in compensation and an additional $75 million in punitive damages. Hardeman, 70, put his arm around his wife, Mary, as the verdict was read and hugged his attorneys.
Monsanto said studies have established that glyphosate, the active ingredient in its widely used weed killer, is safe. The company said it will appeal.
“We are disappointed with the jury’s decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic,” according to a statement from Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year.
Hardeman said he used Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his North Bay property for years. The same jury previously found that Roundup was a substantial factor in Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9438003-181/jury-awards-80-million-to?sba=AAS
Roundup weed killer was a substantial factor in a Sonoma County man’s cancer, a jury determined Tuesday in the first phase of a trial that attorneys said could help determine the fate of hundreds of similar lawsuits.
The unanimous verdict by the six-person jury in federal court in San Francisco came in a lawsuit filed against Roundup’s manufacturer, agribusiness giant Monsanto. Edwin Hardeman, 70, was the second plaintiff to go to trial out of thousands around the country who claim the weed killer causes cancer.
Monsanto says studies have established that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is safe.
A San Francisco jury in August awarded another man $289 million after determining Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A judge later slashed the award to $78 million, and Monsanto has appealed.
Hardeman’s trial is before a different judge and may be more significant. U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits and has deemed Hardeman’s case and two others “bellwether trials.”
The outcome of such cases can help attorneys decide whether to keep fighting similar lawsuits or settle them. Legal experts said a jury verdict in favor of Hardeman and the other test plaintiffs would give their attorneys a strong bargaining position in any settlement talks for the remaining cases before Chhabria.
The judge had split Hardeman’s trial into two phases. Hardeman’s attorneys first had to convince jurors that using Roundup was a significant factor in his cancer before they could make arguments for damages.
The trial will now proceed to the second phase to determine whether the company is liable and if so, for how much.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9409513-181/jury-roundup-weed-killer-major?ref=moststory
Megan Kaun and Nichole Warwick, SONOMA GAZETTE
As our children return to school, beauty surrounds many Sonoma County campuses, with bucolic hillsides and sprawling farmland. Yet, unseen toxicity lies within and around these rural schools. For the first time, data about this toxicity is now available to inform parents and the community.
New information about agricultural 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.
This data shows us that many dangerous pesticides are in use in very close proximity to schools. It also provides us with an opportunity to engage in an informed conversation with schools and farmers.
Toxic Pesticide Use Near Sonoma County Schools
Pesticides, including weed killers (herbicides), insecticides, and fungicides, are used commonly in Sonoma County. Synthetic or man-made pesticides are long-lasting toxicants in the environment, linked to many human health problems. Children are particularly vulnerable to toxicants like pesticides. Many are known carcinogens (cancer-causing) and endocrine disruptors, which affect development and reproductive health in both males and females.
Vineyards dominate agriculture near schools, and the vast majority (around 98%) 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, certification does not require vineyards to reduce pesticide use.
Read more at https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/pesticide-near-school-poses-potential-health-risks
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday banned the use of synthetic weed-killers like Roundup at dozens of parks, buildings and medians around town.
The decision came on a unanimous vote — with Mayor Chris Coursey absent and barely any audience in the council chambers — to approve a one-year extension of the contract with a company that has provided city landscape maintenance services since 2014.
But it culminated a citizen campaign, initiated three years ago, to eliminate use of synthetic herbicides on city property.
The company, Golden Gate Landscape Management, has sprayed glyphosate-based weed killer on parks and other public property under its $509,000 annual contract. The council renewed the contract, but added a prohibition on glyphosate.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8657806-181/santa-rosa-bans-use-of?ref=most
Stephen Nett, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
This spring, a court ruled that the California Environmental Protection Agency can move ahead with its decision to list glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent, a carcinogen, under Proposition 65, after reviewing a body of scientific studies on glyphosate’s potential health risks. The World Health Organization, after its own independent review, took a similar step in 2015.
On a sunny warm May afternoon, Andrew Smith drives around the tree lined, well-tended neighborhoods of Sonoma, on the lookout for a lethal ritual. In a green vest, white Sonoma County Department of Agriculture truck and sunglasses, he’s looking for workers spraying pesticides to kill plants, insects and animals. He stops to make pesticide safety inspections. And when he meets maintenance gardeners using pesticides without a license, he tells them they have to stop until they have one.
Unlicensed pesticide use is a big and growing problem. And Smith, a senior agricultural biologist, acknowledges, his is not a particularly popular job.Armed with colorful booklets, Smith introduces the license, and licensing process, in English or Spanish, as necessary. Sometimes he writes a notice of violation, which can carry a financial penalty. Sometimes, they listen. Sometimes, they turn their back and walk away.
Apart from the maintenance gardeners he approaches, few people even know he’s out there doing it.
But Smith, who grew up in Sonoma County, takes the responsibility seriously. Like his co-workers at the Department of Agriculture, and their counterparts in counties across the state, he’s on the front line to enforce the state rules that protect people and other life in the environment from being poisoned.
Read more at: Officials work to enforce Roundup rules in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat
Amie Windsor, SONOMA WEST TIMES & NEWS
Sometimes, what the community loves and what the community values end up on opposing sides of the spectrum.
Take, for example, Lao’s Strawberries. The ever-loved strawberry stand, located on Highway 12, just east of the Sebastopol Grange, is a popular stopover for locals and tourists alike. Lao Saetern’s stand is known for its impossibly juicy, ever-red, super sweet strawberries, available from mid April through October.
However, the strawberries, as indicated by a report obtained from the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner, undergo pesticide and insecticide treatment, a practice in contrast to west county ideals and values of organic, chemical-free food.
The report is also in contrast to what the strawberry stand told Sonoma West Times and News back in April, when we reported on the season opening of the stand.
According to the report, Saetern used Roundup Powermax and Roundup Weathermax herbicides, along with Acramite 50WS — a pesticide — on his 12 acres of strawberries 17 times between February 2015 and November 2016.
“We spot treat,” Saetern said. “We don’t spray the whole field.”Saetern said he uses the pesticides and herbicides to fight off bugs and weeds that bring disease to the crops, such as spider mites and leaf blight.
“We have to attack so there’s no disease,” Saetern said. “If there’s disease we don’t use it. If there’s disease, there’s no food to eat or sell.”
While some might feel slighted about the revelation of Saetern’s chemical use, since the family farm maintained they used organic practices despite lacking an organic certification, it is important to understand that all strawberries — organic or conventional — are started in chemically-laced soil.
Read more at: Use of chemicals confirmed at strawberry stand | News | sonomawest.com
Megan Kaun, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
We talk a lot these days about the importance of civic engagement. If you are convinced that pesticides and your family should not mix, adopt your favorite park or school campus. Though they might be hesitant initially to change the way things are done, with persistence and a smile they will probably allow you to do their job for them.
What’s yellow and orange and dead all over?
Bright orange streaks pop from the verdant Sonoma County landscape this spring. These are poisoned plants, treated by glyphosate. If you are like me, you may have overlooked this phenomenon, but once you know, it is impossible to ignore.Glyphosate (ɡlīf-ə-sāt), the active ingredient in products like RoundUp®, is the chemical of choice for weed control.
Originally promoted for its safety compared to other pesticides, increasing evidence links glyphosate to cancer and other significant health issues. However, these dangers are largely unrecognized by its users and the general public. In fact, the County of Sonoma alone sprayed over 3,800 gallons of glyphosate-based pesticides in public spaces in 2015; from Spring Lake in Santa Rosa to Sunset Beach in Guerneville.
For a long time, I didn’t notice the dead orange weeds along the sidewalks, nor did I think about how they might be affecting my family’s health and local wildlife. I avoided using pesticides at home, but I didn’t consider use at our parks and schools. I am an environmental engineer, who spent my early career cleaning up toxic waste, so I should have known better. Two years ago I was unaware. Then a personal experience woke me up.
Read more at: Pernicious Pesticides – Hiding in Plain Sight – April 2017