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Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Sources: Pesticide Action Network and Environmental Protection Agency

As April flowers begin to pop up all around our yards and gardens, you may also begin to hear the blissful, melodious buzz of the honeybees. . . bzzzz! It’s truly the sound of spring, and it makes us happy!

bees_4The latest buzz that’s going around about bees, however, is causing us all great concern.

Honeybees are the most economically and agriculturally important pollinators in the whole world, yet their population has been declining severely since the 1990s. In fact, in just the U.S. alone, commercial beekeepers have been reporting up to a 36% decrease in their managed bee populations year after year. Scientists finally attributed this steady depletion in bee population to a phenomenon they named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in 2006. The culprits behind this dilemma? Studies have shown that this growing rate of bee deaths is mainly due to pesticide poisoning, pathogens and diseases, environmental stress, and habitat loss.

So, why save the bees?

Because, believe it or not, out of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food supply (that’s a lot of food!) over 70 of these crops are pollinated by bees. In other words, 1/3 of the food that we see on our plates each meal is from a bee-pollinated plant. Bees are absolutely essential to our agricultural system and to the cultivation and production of numerous fruits, vegetables, and field crops.

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How you can help save the bees -  While there are several organizations that are working hard to combat CCD and improve pollinators’ protection from pesticides (such as the EPA and the USDA CCD Steering Committee), we can all help in our own ways to save our honeybees.

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- Plant lots of flowers and herbs to attract honeybee colonies. We love lavender and geraniums, but you can find the full list here.

- Let your dandelions feed the bees! It is very important to NOT remove your dandelions until AFTER they have bloomed and their flowers have gone. Dandelion flowers are honeybees’ main source of protein and are necessary for their survival, so please leave them for the bees! To learn more, check out this excellent letter from Boulder resident Gabriele Sattler entitled, “Don’t poison our pollinators that we saw in this week’s Boulder Daily Camera.

- Say NO to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Choose organic lawn care and protect not only your kids and pets from exposure to toxic chemicals, but also protect the bees from pesticide poisoning as well! Eliminating chemical treatments from your lawn, trees, and plants eliminates the possibility for many serious and/or fatal health problems and illnesses to attack the species of our ecosystem.

- If you ever find a honeybee habitat on your property, please give us, ecoLogical Lawn and Tree Care, a call right away at 303-444-3456. Leslie Ratica, a local Boulder beekeeper, specializes in sustainable honeybee colony maintenance and will gladly come to your property to extract and re-home any swarms and/or hives upon request.

 

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clean energy collectiveIt’s Only Natural… 

EcoLogical Lawn & Tree Care powers up lawn equipment with clean, locally produced, renewable energy.

 

We are  taking our environmental stewardship to a new level and powering our eco-friendly equipment with local, renewable, solar energy provided by Clean Energy Collective (CEC).   CEC develops community-owned renewable energy solutions for electric utilities and their customers, including Boulder County’s first community-owned solar array – the Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array.  With CEC, residential and commercial utility customers can own fully maintained solar panels in a local, centralized facility. CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter® software credits customers for the power produced directly on their monthly electric bills. In one easy step, customers receive a positive financial payback and reduce pollution - without making any changes to their property. CEC community-owned solar arrays make local renewable energy an easy and smart financial decision for everyone.

 

DCIM100SPORT
The Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array  -  500 kW – Grand Opening guests and customers

 

What is Community-Owned Solar?  Community solar arrays, sometimes referred to as a solar farm or solar garden, are centralized photovoltaic (PV) power facilities that deliver reliable, commercial-scale renewable energy to an electric utility’s grid. The utility’s customers, including residences, businesses, and tax-exempt entities, can own or lease solar panels in the array without having to install panels on their own rooftop or property. In return for the power produced, customers receive credits on monthly electric bills, reducing their expenses and exposure to rising electricity costs while also reducing their carbon footprint. Community solar arrays are ideally situated for sun exposure and professionally maintained for maximum power production and bill savings over an extended lifetime. Customers can own as many panels as they choose (up to 100% of their power need), transfer panels if they move, or sell panels at any time. Community-owned solar refers to Clean Energy Collective’s unique solution in which participants can own their panels providing a better return and an extended savings solution for years to come. Community solar arrays make renewable energy easy, accessible, and smart for everyone – including the environment!

 

For more information regarding Boulder’s own community-owned solar array, contact CEC at 800.646.0323 or info@coloradocommunitysolar.com.

To estimate your own savings, visit: www.ColoradoCommunitySolar.com

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From: SafeLawns.org

DURANGO, CO. — Defiantly declaring that pesticides used to control weeds and insects are safe when used as directed and stating “I don’t believe we’re making any children sick here,” the mayor of this remote town led the charge on a 5-0 vote late Tuesday night against an ordinance that would have removed both synthetic chemical pesticides — and fertilizers — from all town-owned property.

That is only the beginning of the fight, however, in the highly independent Home Rule Municipality in the southwest corner of the state. Because organizers of the petition drive collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of what would be a historic restriction on synthetic fertilizers as well as pesticides, the initiative may now be placed on the November ballot for the town’s 16,000-plus residents to decide.

The issue of lawn care pesticides is invariably polarizing. No matter where the debate has raged in the nearly three decades since Hudson, Quebec, began hearing from Dr. June Irwin back in 1985, some folks believe the pesticides like 2,4-D and Roundup are safe; others feel that these products fall somewhere between dangerous and lethal.

Despite the city council’s 5-0 vote against the petition, Blair, Gourley and their group of organizers still hold the best cards in this spirited poker match. If they allow the issue to go to the November ballot in an election year — in which the state of Colorado is also debating the legalization of marijuana — they know they will probably win. Numerous polls have shown that younger voters especially favor anti-pesticide initiatives.

 

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Scientists are learning that chemicals you encounter every day can interfere with your immune system, leading to allergies and other problems.

From Organic Gardening

A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that common chemicals such as triclosan, an antibacterial chemical used in toothpastes and other personal-care products, and bisphenol-A (BPA), used in plastics and the linings of food cans, could be interfering with our immune systems.

Knowing that BPA and triclosan both interfere with the endocrine system and act like estrogen in the body, the authors suspected that because estrogen protects immune cells, the chemicals could have some impact on the health of the immune system. Previous laboratory studies have also shown that BPA and triclosan, along with a few other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, increase production of cells that lead to allergy development.

The researchers compared levels of BPA and triclosan in roughly 5,000 participants’ urine samples with two markers of immune-system health: a professional diagnosis of allergies or hayfever and levels of antibodies for cytomegalovirus, a common virus that most people contract at a very young age and that stays in our bodies for the rest of our lives.

Triclosan was significantly associated with allergies and hayfever, their analysis showed. That finding supports the “hygiene hypothesis,” or the idea that the more we try to sanitize our homes and our environments, the less able our immune systems are to defend us against common “invaders” like allergens and pollen. Although BPA wasn’t found to have an impact on allergies, it did seem to affect those cytomegalovirus antibodies. Adults over 18 who had higher levels of BPA also had higher levels of antibodies, suggesting that their immune systems weren’t functioning as well as they should be. Scrubbing yourself clean with triclosan-saturated antibacterial soap may be a bad deal for your immune system. And so might BPA, which lurks in food-can linings and cash-register receipts, among other places.

To avoid BPA, limit your consumption of canned foods, don’t microwave in plastic containers (BPA is a component of some plastics), and avoid other known exposure sources, such as receipts. Decline receipts at the ATM, gas stations, and any other retail outlet that gives you the choice. When you do get a receipt, store it in a separate envelope, rather than in your wallet.

To avoid triclosan, avoid all products labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial.” The chemical is listed as an active ingredient in all personal-care products in which it’s used. But triclosan is also added to household goods as diverse as cutting boards and garden hoses. Keep an eye out for terms like “Microban” or “Biofresh,” as both are trade names for triclosan.

Sources:

OrganicGardening.com

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From BeyondPesticides.org

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday that it has rejected a petition to ban the widely used herbicide 2,4-D, dismissing epidemiologic studies that link the pesticide to cancer, endocrine disruption, and other human health effects. In its announcement, EPA also responded to comments that Beyond Pesticides submitted in 2009, dismissing two studies that evaluate the relationship between the use of the chemical on lawns and the incidence of malignant lymphoma in pets. Thepetition was initially filed in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

2,4-D has been used in the U.S. since the 1940s, and as such is one of the oldest registered herbicides in the country. It made up roughly half of the herbicide known as Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War. According to EPA, 2,4-D is currently found in approximately 600 products registered for agricultural, residential, industrial, and aquatic uses.

The use of 2,4-D is expected to increase significantly in the next few years with the recent announcement that Dow AgroSciences, the main manufacturer of the chemical, is seeking federal approval to sell corn seeds that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide. [Listen to a radio interview on this subject by Beyond Pesticides’ Executive Director Jay Feldman.]

2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomaResearch by EPA suggests that babies born in counties with high rates of chlorophenoxy herbicides application to farm fields are significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates. The results also show a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.

Unfortunately, the agency’s ruling states that there is not enough data to conclude that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between exposure to 2,4-D and health effects. EPA reviewers said that though some studies have shown higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among farmers, it was too difficult to point to 2,4-D as the cause because of the farmer’s exposure to so many other chemicals. Instead, according to the New York Times, the agency relies heavily on an industry funded study by 2,4-D manufacturers and conducted by Dow. The study found that when 2,4-D was put into food for rats, the rats had no reproductive problems, or problems in their offspring.

>>Read more

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Credit: Organic Consumers Association

from GreenerGreenGrass.org

The USDA has announced this month that it is waiving its regulatory authority over new genetically engineered lawn grass. The GE grass is made by Scotts Miracle-Gro, and they have been given permission to start selling the Franken-grass without any studies that may prove it to be harmful to human health, the environment, and organic farmers (which it is). With this advance, the USDA has now helped to create a new class of genetically engineered plants, animals and animal drugs that get a “free pass” when it comes to government regulation.

Scott’s new, gene-altered grass is “RoundUp Ready”, thus we will now be exposed to more of the toxic chemicals Monsanto uses. Monsanto’s chemicals have been linked to birth defects and cancer and have been equated with the Agent Orange chemicals that have caused so many health issues for our veterans. The fact that this RoundUp Ready grass is getting a free pass will make it easier for companies like Monsanto to get GMO crops into our food supply with absolutely no government review or public input.
Continue reading on Examiner.com 

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From Beyond PesticidesJuly 26th, 2011

Judge Ross of the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that pesticides drifting from one farm to another may constitute trespass. Organic farmers Oluf and Debra Johnson filed a civil suit alleging that the oil company sprayed a pesticide that drifted from targeted fields onto theirs, and that this prevented them from selling their crops as an organic product. Previously, a district court dismissed the Johnsons’ trespass claims. The victory is important for organic growers who are frequently under threat of pesticide drift from neighboring properties.

According to court documents, Oluf and Debra converted their conventional family farm to a certified-organic farm during the mid-1990s. Oluf Johnson posted signs at the farm’s perimeter indicating that it was chemical-free, maintained a buffer zone between his organic fields and his chemical-using neighbors’ farms. He also notified commercial pesticide sprayer Paynseville Farmers Union Cooperative Oil Company of the transition. He specifically asked the cooperative to take precautions to avoid pesticide drift onto his fields when treating adjacent fields. Despite the Johnsons’ requests, in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2008, the cooperative sprayed pesticides that drifted and contaminated the Johnson’s organic crop, forcing them to sell at a lower, non-organic price.

The District Court in Minnesota ruled that pesticide drift cannot be trespass, but the Appeals Court disagreed. While no Minnesota courts have previously ruled that drift can be trespass, courts in other states have ruled in favor of organic farmers. The appeals court sent the organic farmers’ lawsuit back to a lower court for further action.

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HUFFINGTON POST– News recently surfaced in Washington  that  industry regulators have known for years that Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Roundup, causes birth defects and even miscarriages.

The report showed that regulators were aware of the harmful effects of Roundup’s key ingredient, a chemical called glyphosate, as early as the 1980′s, but kept it a secret from the public. The European  Commission as well as the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety insisted that was no evidence  glyphosate causes birth defects.

Finally, after discovering that genetically-modified crops  used in conjunction with Roundup contain a pathogen that was causing animal miscarriages, Don Huber of Purdue University wrote a letter to  Secretary of Agriculture requesting regulation of Roundup Ready crops. Despite research, there is no set plan to review the product until 2015.

www.huffingtonpost.com

Read more here.

More articles about Roundup and birth defects.

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Natural and organic lawn care industry leaders will gather in Seattle on June 4th for a day-long  conference to discuss pressing issues that surround the health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use.

Presented by the Rodale Institute, the Coalition of Organic Landscape Professionals and TheSafeLawns Foundation, this event will include topics such as the Childs Safe Playing Fields Act and  Colony Collapse Disorder in bees in addition to new findings concerning chemical pesticides/herbicides and the least toxic alternatives.

“The goal of the summit is to create awareness of the health hazards and environmental degradation associated with pesticides, and to strategize ways to reduce their use, including changes in policy and legislation,” said Howard Harrison, a founding member of the Coalition of Organic Landscape Professionals.

For more information click here.

http://www.safelawns.org/blog

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One of our mentors in this industry is natural lawn care activist Paul Tukey, who has dedicated his life to bringing awareness around the dangers of chemical pesticides and herbicides to our health and well-being.

Aside from advocating for  governmental regulations and educating the public, Paul’s latest venture includes a documentary film about a town that chose to speak-out about these hazards after a local dermatologists noticed a connection between her patients’ condidtions and their exposure to lawn care chemicals.

The film has been called fascinating, enlightening and frightening…one that everyone should see. Of course, the film’s values hit home for us, but we hope they will do the same for you too.

Check out the trailer below:

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