Beyond Pesticides

year 2, week 36:  this week i'm gonna... go organic.

Beyond Pesticides focuses on protecting health and the environment with science, policy, and action. Part of their mission is to inform the public and take action that will make an impact on environmental health. 

Recently, the organization sued Mott's regarding misleading labeling of their applesauce products. Below is an excerpt from one of their press releases:

"Washington, DC, May 5, 2017 - A national environmental health organization (Beyond Pesticides) today sued Mott’s, under consumer protection law, for false and misleading “natural” labeling of applesauce products containing a toxic pesticide. The suit argues that the finding of residues in the company’s applesauce of the neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid, which is particularly toxic to pollinators, disqualifies the products from being labeled “natural” or as containing “all natural ingredients.” 

The plaintiffs maintain that by using “natural” or “all natural ingredients” labeling, Mott’s leads consumers to believe that its applesauce products do not contain synthetic substances. Plaintiffs claim that defendants know or should have known that many consumers buy foods labeled as “natural” in an attempt to “limit the amount of pesticides they and their families ingest” or eliminate the use of synthetic ingredients that adversely affect pollinators. 

“People are looking for food products that are healthy for their family, children, and the environment, and deceptive “natural” labeling of products grown with pesticides undermines their best intentions,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. 

There are concerns in the scientific literature and European Food Safety Authority about the effect of acetamiprid on human health, particularly children. Scientists are concerned that acetamiprid affects nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) or cerebellar neurons, causing adverse effects to brain development. Children are at elevated risk from pesticide exposure due to developing organ systems and higher intake relative to body weight."

Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides seeks to protect healthy air, water, land, and food for ourselves and future generations. They provide hands-on services to the public and support local action by identifying and interpreting hazards and designing safe pest management programs.

With the information provided by Beyond Pesticides, people can make informed choices and adopt practices that protect themselves and their families from unnecessary exposure to pesticides, and are able to effect changes on community-wide pest management decisions and policies that govern pesticide use in places like parks and schools, among others. 

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Beyond Pesticides has recently tackled another issue of misleading advertising, this time at Whole Foods: their “responsibly grown” marketing labels imply “responsibly grown” produce utilizes organic practices, when, in fact, they do not.

“The Responsibly Grown system may look attractive at first glance, especially if shoppers do not school themselves in understanding the rating system,” states Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. But when the rating system was unveiled, organic farmers criticized the grocery store chain, maintaining that it undermines organic agriculture and lacks the stringent standards and certification process required by organic law.”

Whole Foods’ responsibly grown labeling policy, which was updated in January 2017 after criticism, “restricts growers to using only U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA registered pesticides.” There is nothing organic about it. 

Drew Toher, community resource and policy director for DC-based Beyond Pesticides, says, “What Whole Foods continues to do is frustrating, especially since they received all this criticism for their original scheme, went back to the drawing board, and apparently came up with this confusing mess."

Toher points out that most of the “prohibited” chemicals in the updated Responsibly Grown policy are already completely banned for food use in the United States, so they are illegal. “It’s odd and frankly disingenuous to say they’re not using banned pesticides as part of their marketing for this program... no growers should be using banned pesticides because banned means they’re illegal under federal law,” Toher states.

Toher points out that unsuspecting customers might not realize that other chemicals that “impair neurological development and are broadly toxic to many beneficial organisms” are not prohibited or restricted by the policy. 

“The wide assortment of labels and claims made on products at the grocery store can be confusing, but consumers wishing to support truly responsible farming practices can simplify their decisions by paying attention to one: USDA certified organic,” Toher says. “Buying certified organic products is the best, and only way to ensure what your purchase doesn’t contain toxic pesticides that harm people, pollinators, and environmental health.” 

Story sourced from, "Whole Foods has its own definition for ‘responsibly grown’ and it’s meaningless," April 17, 2017

Notes for this week:

  • September is Baby Safety Month! Beyond Pesticides works to keep babies healthy and safe from environmental pesticides.
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor programs that assist communities with transitioning to organic practices.
  • For more information on Beyond Pesticides, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to Beyond Pesticides.

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