Last week, California got great news from the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) — use of the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos will be forbidden in California after December 31, 2020.
Chlorpyrifos has been linked to severe and permanent brain damage in young children, including ADHD, IQ loss and autism. It has also been the source of several farmworker poisonings in the state.
Steps to eradication
While the use of chlorpyrifos in California will end next December, there are a few key dates to look forward to before then that will aid in eliminating the harmful chemicals from the state’s agricultural and food system. DowDuPont (now Corteva), the principal manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, will have to cease all sales of the pesticide in California as soon as November 8.
Then, distributors must stop selling the chemical to growers by February 6, 2020. Hopefully with sales ending in February, chlorpyrifos will be mostly out of circulation well before the date in December fully prohibiting use.
Until then, all uses of chlorpyrifos must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives.
An ongoing process
PAN celebrated California Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement in May of this year to initiate the cancellation process of chlorpyrifos — applauding this strong action at the state level while we await progress on the pesticide at the federal level.
But as we celebrated, we braced ourselves for an ongoing and possibly unwieldy battle to see the cancellation process though. Just last month, the agrichemical corporations that manufacture chlorpyrifos filed an opposition to the accusations served against them by DPR that kicked off the cancellation process.
So last week’s announcement from DPR with a concrete timeline for phasing out chlorpyrifos was a welcome victory. MORE
Photograph Source Senate Democrats
Soon to be released research from the United Nations is expected to place species loss, a/k/a mass extinction, as an environmental threat equal to or greater than climate change. Industrial agriculture— vast expanses of monoculture crops managed with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, will feature prominently as a cause. This plant agriculture supplies people with increasingly toxic and processed food and antibiotic and hormone dependent factory farms with animal feed. Together, these link the model of capitalist efficiency economists have been selling for the last two centuries to environmental crisis.
Understanding the theoretical precepts of Western economics is crucial to understanding these crises. Capitalism is scientific economic production, a method in search of applications. Its object is to maximize profits, not to growth nutritious food sustainably. As industrial agriculture has demonstrated, these objectives are antithetical. Crop yields have increased as the nutritional value of the food produced has declined. But far more troublingly, the narrow focus on profits has led to a form of environmental imperialism where interrelated ecosystems are viewed atomistically.
Mass extinction is largely attributable to the drive for economic control— the expansion of industrial agriculture to feed factory farm animals has been both geographic and intensive. The annihilation of insects through pesticide use on crops has led in turn to the annihilation of the species that feed on them. Interrelated ecosystems are systematically destroyed through a logic that does not ‘work’ otherwise. Leaving ecosystems intact upends it. When value is granted to what is destroyed, industrial agriculture ceases to earn a profit. In a broader sense, this means that it never earned a profit in the first place.
Unlike the narrow technocratic fixes being put forward to resolve global warming, mass extinction points to the systemic problems within capitalist logic. Within it, reconfiguring pieces of the world has a limited impact— so small in fact that the impact is considered ‘external’ to production processes. In an interrelated world, reconfiguring pieces— including annihilating or favoring them, impacts the broader relationships within the system. Were capitalist production not rapidly killing the planet, such esoterica could have remained within the purview of academia.
But it is killing the planet, suggesting that the organizing logic of capitalism is fundamentally flawed. MORE
A new study tracks the pesticides and residues in a small cohort of eaters, and found significant reductions when they switched to an all-organic diet.
For consumers uncertain about the value of organic food, a new study adds evidence to a larger body of research showing that eating organic very well may reduce pesticides in the human body. The study, which was just published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, finds that families eating a 100 percent organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduced their exposure to four classes of pesticides—by an average of 60 percent—over six days.
Conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health and funded in part by the nonprofit environmental group Friends of the Earth, the study builds on prior studies—including one conducted on adults in Australia, and two on children in Seattle and California—which all similarly found that switching to organic food quickly and substantially reduced pesticide exposures.
“It’s striking that the levels dropped so dramatically after only six days,” said Kendra Klein, senior scientist at Friends of the Earth and one of the report’s authors. “That’s the good news,” she said. “We’re seeing that something you ingest can clear from your body in a few days. The problem is that we’re eating that food so continuously that we’re getting a daily exposure despite the excretion.” MORE