NRDC Report and Coalition Against Pesticides
NRDC Report and Coalition Against Pesticides
On June 21, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) held a news conference
in Washington, DC, to announce the availability of a new NRDC report, "After
Silent Spring," and a national coalition effort to reform pesticide law.
Information from the news conference was on television news last night and is
being carried today in newspapers, including "USA Today."
The NRDC news release, which follows, summarizes the findings in the report. We
also include a news release from the National Coalition Against the Misuse of
Pesticides (NCAMP), a coalition of environmental, labor and consumer groups; the
release explains the coalition's positions and history. As made clear in the
news conference, the coalition supports the phasing out of any pesticide
suspected of causing cancer. It also supports labeling of food to show what
pesticides were used on the food and what the possible risks might be to
Presenters at the news conference frequently raised the issues of food safety,
water quality and worker protection. Other points they made at the news
conference include the following:
- USDA was said to lack in leadership in the research and implementation of
alternative agriculture methods.
- It was suggested that pesticide enforcement should be under state departments of
labor rather than agriculture, as agriculture tends to side with industry and
not the workers and consumers.
- The coalition does not favor a ban of all pesticide use. The need for people to
eat fruits and vegetables was recognized; again, the group urged that food
labeling show pesticide use.
- The coalition's position is that USDA must lead the way with work on
alternatives in agriculture, and must promote IPM and biological controls.
Points of interest from the NRDC report, "After Silent Spring," include the
- Pesticides pollute the nation's lakes, streams and rivers.
- At least 38 percent of the food samples analyzed by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) in 1990 contained detectable pesticide residues.
- Increasing numbers of pests are becoming resistant to pesticides.
- The report takes an in-depth look at the history of eight chemicals, DBCP, EDB,
daminozide, parathion, 2,4-D, methyl bromide, alachlor and atrazine, several of
which remain in use.
- At least 107 different active ingredients in pesticides have now been found to
cause cancer in animals or humans.
- Pesticides have now been found to be pervasive contaminants of drinking water.
If you want a copy of the NRDC report, "After Silent Spring," you may order one
for $7.50 plus $1.45 shipping and handling (per copy) from: NRDC Publications,
40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011 (checks in U.S. dollars only).
We have also attached an item distributed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at
the news conference. This release supports and names specific IPM programs.
This information is being provided to increase awareness of news activities and
materials of various groups that may influence food safety and quality and
pesticide education programs. No endorsement is intended.
In the next day or two, you will receive more background information on
pesticide issues and examples of Extension programs in anticipation of the June
29 release of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on pesticides and
Because we are communicating with several different Extension departments,
please coordinate your efforts to avoid duplication and to assure that everyone
has the same information.
If anyone has related information to share with us or the entire Extension
System, please let us know. Thank you.
NRDC NEWS RELEASE FOLLOWS
Natural Resources Defense Council
1350 New York Ave., N.W
Washington, DC 20005
Fax 2O2 783-5917
For Immediate Release
June 21, 1993
Contact: Sarah Silver 202-783-7800
Judy Martinez 213-892-1500
NRDC REPORTS DOCUMENTS HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, U.S. PESTICIDE USE
Coalition of Environment, Labor, Consumer, Grassroots Groups Endorses Reform
Agenda For Nation's Pesticide Laws
A new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council reveals
that the public health and the environment have been put in jeopardy through the
government's ineffective and indifferent efforts to control pesticide use in the
thirty years since Rachel Carson's landmark book "Silent Spring" was published.
Urging action to resolve the problems highlighted in NRDC's new report, "After
Silent Spring: The Unsolved Problems of Pesticide Use in the United States," a
broad coalition of national environmental, consumer, labor groups and grassroots
organizations joined forces today and called on the Clinton Administration and
Congress to support an aggressive pesticide agenda.
"NRDC's new report exposes the disastrous effects of our continued reliance on
toxic pesticides," said Jennifer Curtis, NRDC senior research associate. "The
government's seeming devotion to pesticides has resulted in the systematic
contamination of our environment, our wildlife, our drinking water, our food
supply and in the poisoning of farmers and farmworkers."
NRDC's report found:
- Since 1964, conventional pesticide use in the U.S. has almost doubled; total
pesticide use now exceeds two billion pounds - eight pounds for every man, woman
and child in this country.
- At least 71 known carcinogenic pesticides are in use today on our food crops.
- Studies in humans indicate that for certain cancers, farmers are at increased
risk because of exposure to pesticides. Similarly, women with increased levels
of DDE, a metabolite of DDT, in their fat tissue are at greater risk for breast
- One out of every ten public water supply wells in the U.S. contains residues of
at least one pesticide and over 440,000 rural private wells contain pesticides.
- At least 38 percent of the food samples analyzed by the FDA in 1990 contained
detectable levels of pesticide residues.
- Posing a threat unlike any other, the widely used pesticide methyl bromide has
been found to be a potent destroyer of the ozone layer.
"Over the past three decades, health and environmental problems from pesticides
have grown, largely as result of a regulatory system that is an abysmal failure
and in need of a complete overhaul," said Erik Olson, NRDC senior attorney.
"The federal government has done little to stem the increase in pesticide use or
to promote the use of safe alternatives," Olson stated. "Weak federal laws and
regulations, bureaucratic delay and a suspect system of environmental and health
effects assessment have conspired to render pesticide oversight inadequate."
"American consumers are eager to kick the pesticide habit. But lawmakers must
act on a broad range of issue to make that vision a reality," said Olson.
According to NRDC experts, a confluence of events makes 1993 the best time to
act on reforming pesticide policy.
"The time is right," stated Erik Olson. "The courts upheld the Delaney Clause
which bans carcinogenic pesticide residues in processed food, the new EPA chief
Carol Browner expressed a commitment to reforming the old, outdated policies,
and environmentalists and consumer groups are agreed on a plan of action.
"Thirty years after Rachel Carson first warned the world about the dangers of
pesticides, we may finally have the political opportunity to fix the problem.
That is great news for all Americans," Olson concluded.
A new coalition of groups announced their support for a comprehensive reform
agenda, similar to the agenda outlined in NRDC's report. The three major goals
of the coalition agenda are to improve the safety of the food supply, encourage
the use of non-toxic agricultural alternatives to pesticides; and strengthen the
nation's pesticide program by modernizing pesticide laws to better protect the
public and environment. The key recommendations proposed by the coalition are:
- Phase out the food uses of the most dangerous pesticides over a specific tune
- Adopt a uniform statutory health-based standard for all pesticides in all foods.
- Encourage the development, demonstration, and transition of alternatives to risk
pesticides through targeted research.
- Streamline and strengthen EPA's pesticide program, improve EPA's enforcement
authority for FIFRA; and protect the public and farmworkers from risky
NRDC is a non-profit environmental advocacy group with more than 170,000 members
NCAMP PRESS RELEASE
National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
701 E Street, SE - Suite 200; Washington, D.C.
Embargoed For Release
June 21, 1993
Contact: Jay Feldman
PUBLIC INTEREST COALITION CALLS FOR REMOVAL OF CANCER CAUSING PESTICIDES AND
TRANSITION TO SAFE ALTERNATIVES
Washington, D.C. (June 21, 1993) - A coalition of environmental, labor and
consumers groups joined in a national effort to reform federal pesticide law.
The groups represent a major cross section of organizations that have previously
taken a range of positions. The groups today called for the phaseout of cancer
causing pesticides and the removal of other pesticides shown to cause other
effects such as birth defects, nerve system damage, and other health effects. At
the same time, the coalition called for a major national effort to put
alternative pest management approaches in place that do not rely on pesticides
by the year 2,000.
The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), a national
organization composed of grassroots environmental, labor and consumer
organizations, has long asked Congress to take hazardous pesticides, such as
those that cause cancer, off the market and assist in a national transition to
nonchemical pest management strategies. The group supports the 1958 Delaney
Clause of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, requiring EPA to remove from
commerce cancer pesticides that concentrate in processed food. The requirement
in the law prohibits additional cancer risk to be added to the processed food
supply and, according to NCAMP, is based on the public health principle of
preventing harm. A federal Appeals Court (Ninth Circuit) last July instructed
EPA to enforce the no additional risk standard of the law, rather than the
"negligible risk" standard it has been using. The court decision has sparked
agrichemical industry efforts calling for the repeal of the Delaney Clause.
Over its twelve-year history, NCAMP has developed a broad, bipartisan coalition
composed of those who have experienced problems associated with pesticides and
the benefits of alterative pest management practices that are not reliant on
pesticides. People and their organizations that are a part of NCAMP come from
both an urban and rural perspective, farm and nonfarm. What joins the coalition
members together is a concern about the widespread use of pesticides that has
resulted in adverse health and environmental effects and property damage. The
group has worked extensively with growers who have been damaged by the DuPont
chemical fungicide, Benlate, now tied to crop damage all across the United
NCAMP says it is wrong to dismiss so-called trace amounts of deadly cancer
causing pesticides. Scientists are unable to establish a safe level for exposure
to cancer causing pesticides. NCAMP rejects the notion that a "negligible risk"
standard will protect people, especially given the multiplicity of cancer
causing pesticides used in food production. Eleven of the 32 pesticides EPA has
identified as cancer causing are registered for use on apples, 10 on grapes.
Assessing the risk from a piece of fruit, a plate of food and three meals a day
is beyond the grasp of numerous legislative proposals before Congress. The group
says that these proposals are not sufficiently protective at a time when cancer
strikes one in three in the U.S. and claims one in four lives.
According to Jay Feldman, NCAMP's executive director, "The goal of the reform
policy is to replace high risk pesticides with lower risk pest management
methods. In this sense, we are calling for a pesticide registration system that
is based on pest management needs, coupled with the promotion of least toxic
methods. The goal is to replace toxic materials with pest management approaches
that are not reliant on poisons."
"Are we worried that delays in removing dangerous pesticides from the market
will lead to no action in the end? Yes, we are," said Mr. Feldman. Feldman
continued, 'We are not interested in trading the Delaney Clause for flawed risk
assessments that ignore the real pain and suffering of dreaded illnesses like
cancer and nervous system diseases. We are interested in weaning our nation's
food production system from its chemical fix while putting in place pest
management practices that truly protect human health and the environment."
WWF STATEMENT FOLLOWS
FARMERS WORKING WITH NATURE TO REDUCE AGRICULTURAL POLLUTION
World Wildlife Fund is drawing on the knowledge and experience of thousands of
farmers in the United States and elsewhere in developing policy recommendations
that reduce reliance on pesticides and other agrichemicals. A high-level,
measurable commitment to pesticide reduction must be backed by policies and
programs that provide opportunities for farmers to diversify their approach to
Concern for a safer environment and a desire to farm more profitably drive
on-farm experimentation in practices that reduce off-farm inputs. The art of
farming requires keen observation and flexible thinking to creatively balance
relationships between plants, animals, soil, weather and market conditions, as
well as personal, community and business needs.
The farmers and organizations mentioned in this fact sheet are well-known for
their efforts to reduce agrichemical inputs. You may wish to contact them
directly for further information concerning on-farm pesticide reduction.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) provides farmers multiple options for pest
control. Farmers can reduce reliance on pesticides by carefully monitoring
crops, banding pesticides, recalibrating pesticide sprayers, as well as by
improving soil quality to protect plant health, introducing beneficial insects
that prey on pests, and maintaining habitat for the pest predators.
Arnold Elzer saved $117.90/acre in tart cherry production and $191.20/acre in
apple production using IPM techniques. He is part of the Michigan Sustainable
Agriculture Project, sponsored by American Farmland Trust and the Michigan
Agricultural Stewardship Association.
Potato growers Bernie and Bob Lapacinski -use half the pesticides they used ten
years ago through IPM. They cut their folier spraying in half, eliminated
fungicide seed treatments, stopped using systemic insecticides and reduced
herbicide rates. They demonstrate IPM through the University of Wisconsin
Nutrient and Pesticide Management Program.
The Kitamura farm, Sacramento, CA, saved $7,318 a year on pesticides (averaging
$45.73/acre) with tomatoes grown in an IPM system. The case study is detailed in
the National Research Council's "Alternative Agriculture," 1989.
Tom Galazen grows strawberries for market without pesticides, saving $44/acre.
Part of the Chequamegon Organic Growers Network, his demonstration is sponsored
by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
CASH GRAIN FARMING SYSTEMS
Farmers may use a variety of cropping options to control weeds and insects in
their fields. In addition to IPM, farmers may use conservation tillage, cover
cropping, intercropping, strip cropping and mowing. Farmers commonly rotate
crops to disrupt insect life cycles and may use a rotary hoe to disrupt weed
growth in spring.
The Michigan Energy Conservation Program documented that about 50% of the
participants in their sprayer recalibration program were applying pesticides
over the label rate by more than 10%. Through sprayer recalibration alone,
growers saved $8.50/acre or more on pesticide inputs.
Bernie and Nancy Klieber compared three systems on a com/soybean rotation.
Profits on com in the conventional system were $108/acre; ridge-till $152/acre
and with ridge-till and a cover crop $128/acre. Soybean profits ranged from
conventional $49/acre; ridge-till $88/acre; ridge-till and cover crop $85/acre.
Although the cover crop cost the Kliebers in the short- run, they expect to see
benefits from Unproved soil quality over time. The Kliebers demonstrate with the
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, a private research group in East Troy,
As part of the 1990 Indiana On-Farm Demonstration project, Vaghn Edwards and
Dave Williamson saved money and maintained yields by simple changes in soybean
production. Williamson banded herbicides, saving $8/acre. Edwards mowed, used
the rotary hoe and gave his fields and additional cultivation, saving $11/acre.
The demonstrations were sponsored by the American Farmland Trust and the Indiana
Sustainable Agriculture Association.
Alan Yegelehner, another participant in the Indiana On- Farm Demonstration
Project, managed two ridge-till soybean plots identically, using rotary hoe and
cultivation for weed control. On one plot, Yegelehner banded herbicides, too,
and found that the soybeans grown without the herbicides were healthier and
produced a higher yield.
Arden Kiefer, Belmond IA, converted his farm from row crops into a cash crop hay
farm, reducing input costs 75 %. Source: Regenerative Agriculture Association's
"Profitable Farming Now," 1985.
Darryl Townsend of Nobleton, FL, raises nearly half a million pounds of seed on
1,250 acres. Through crop rotation and a dramatic reduction of synthetic
fertilizer and pesticides, Townsend has maintained his sandy soil in good
condition, achieved better yields, and cut his chemical bill in half. From the
Regenerative Agriculture Association's "Profitable Farming Now," 1985.
ANIMAL-BASED AGRICULTURE SYSTEMS
Including animals in a farming system allows farmers to mimic natural systems
through production diversity. Farmers often grow a variety of crops in rotation,
such as corn, oats, alfalfa and hay, to use as animal feed. The livestock manure
can then be used for crop fertilizer, completing a biological loop. Intensive
rotational grazing is one way of integrating the entire farming system, taking
full advantage of biological relationships. Rotational grazing saves the
farmer's time and energy, and the animals are healthier, too. Some farmers no
longer grow grain for animal feed, eliminating crop pesticide use completely.
Dick Cates, field director for sustainable agriculture demonstrations sponsored
by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, notes
that in grazing projects over the past five years, farmers are realizing a 40%
savings across the board. Dave Forgey, an Indiana dairy producer, also
documented a 40% savings on his farm using rotational grazing.
Dr. Dave Zartmann, chair of Ohio State's dairy science department is working
with other researchers at Ohio State and Penn State to study intensive
rotational grazing in this innovative multidisciplinary joint effort.
John and Linda Oswalt raise sheep on 18 acres of rotational pasture. When net
income from the pasture is compared to John's estimated net return from 18 acres
of field corn, the rotational pasture produced four and one half times more
income for the Oswalts in 1992. The Michigan Sustainable Agriculture Project
sponsors the demonstration.
Gene and Mary Fritsche had the lowest cost per bushel of any Wisconsin corn
producer who entered the state's 1992 Profits through Efficient Production
(PEPS) contest. Substituting crop rotation and mechanical weed control for
pesticides, he topped the dairy livestock division with corn grown without
pesticides. The Fritsches demonstrate through the University of Wisconsin-
Nutrient and Pest Management program.
Dean Swenson and Carl Pulvermacher, both of the Western Wisconsin Farmers
Research Network, switched to sustainable practices on their field corn acreage,
realizing about a $26/acre savings on production. The farmer network
demonstrates through the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer
The Sabot Hill Farm outside of Richmond, VA., has experienced a savings of more
than $20,000/year on their 3,530 acre diversified farm through alterative weed
management, improved pastures, and other sustainable methods. Source: National
Research Council's "Alternative Agriculture," 1989.
For further information on whole-farm approaches to pesticide reduction contact:
Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Organization. Tom Guthrie, 616/623-2261
Wisconsin Rural Development Center. Margaret Krome, Director of Sustainable
Agriculture Programs, 608/437-5971
University of Wisconsin-Nutrient and Pest Management Program. Kit Schmit, Public
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Richard
Cates, Sustainable Agriculture Program, 608/273-6408
Ohio State University-Dairy Science Department. Dr. David Zartmann, Chair,
Indiana Sustainable Agriculture Association. Steve Bonney, 317/463-9366
Tom Galazen-Chequamegon Organic Growers. 715/779-3254
Dean Swenson and Carl Pulvermacher. Southern Wisconsin Farmers Research Network.
Carl Fredericks, Network Coordinator, 608/437-4395
American Farmland Trust--Center for Agriculture in the Environment. Brian
Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Steering Committee. 814/349-9856
Virginia Association of Biological Farmers. 703/675-3263
Practical Farmers of Iowa. Dick Thompson, 515/432-1560
Alternative Energy Resources Organization. 406/443-7272
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. 803/297-8562
World Wildlife Fund. Michelle Miller, Great Lakes Project for Agricultural
World Wildlife Fund, 1250 Twenty-Fourth St., NW Washington, DC 20037-1175 USA
Tel: (202) 293- 4800 Telex: 64505 PANDA FAX: (202) 293-9211
Incorporating The Conservation Foundation. Affiliated with World Wide Fund for