Don’t Spray Me! live and silent auction fundraiser Dec. 1

Sierra Club/Don’t Spray Me! Silent and Live auction with Briggs auctioneer.

Saturday December 1, 2018, at 5-8 p.m. at the Unitarian Congregation, 501 S. High St., West Chester PA.

From 5-6 Browse auction items and exhibits. Piano music provided by Tom Buglio.

From 6-7 Enjoy catered dinner by Chef Sylvie created with organic ingredients from Two Gander Farm, with bread from La Baguette Magique and desserts by Kim Stack of 3 Little Pigs. (Vegetarian menu.)

At 7-8 Auction with auctioneer Lori from Briggs Auctions: House in Ireland and one on Anna Maria Island in Florida, Scottish themed dinner complete with bagpipes, sushi making workshop, tour of distillery with tasting, try out electric bikes, hand-knitted items. Lots of restaurant gift cards and theater tickets and work by local artists. Holiday shopping made easy… and no plastic items!

Park in the public parking garage at 15 Sharpless Street or in metered or unmetered street spaces.

Tickets at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3630281/ include a light dinner and two drink tickets.

Sierra Club/DSM is raising funds to continue work in environmental education for the children of Chester County. In the past, for Earth Day, we have had children illustrate and keep reusable shopping bags. We have also sponsored environmental craft activities and poster making at summer camp programs. Sierra Club Youth Corps began in 2017 when the group worked on eradicating weeds in sidewalks naturally without chemicals such as RoundUp. And WC borough decided to ban Round Up in parks and public places. In 2018, youth and adult advisers surveyed drains to check for trash and standing water as they launched our local Adopt a Drain Program in cooperation with WC Borough Public Works Dept. Moving forward next year, the youth will work on ridding the Borough of single-use plastic.

Questions: mhudgings@gmail.com.

More about Don’t Spray Me! at dontsprayme.com.

Help us fund more such worthy programs, meet like-minded people, and enjoy supper and a fun evening!

The GreenEd Auction will feature stays at a beach house in Ireland and other vacation homes and tickets to the annual Robert Burns Night Supper. There will also be a silent auction for attendees as well as a light supper featuring the cuisine of Chef Sylvie of West Chester. Wine or beer will be provided with supper and a cash bar will be available afterwards and throughout the evening.

Questions: mhudgings@gmail.com.

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Tell Gov. Wolf to ban dicamba

Sign the petition: Ban Dicamba Now

Imagine Monsanto’s “perfect” herbicide: It kills everything, except the one soybean plant that farmers want.

The problem is that this herbicide doesn’t stay where it’s sprayed. It drifts — staying up in the air 72 hours later — and damages or destroys every plant it in its path, from trees and wildflowers to neighboring farms. 1

It’s dicamba, which is made by Monsanto and other companies. And thanks to its pairing with this new genetically-modified soybean, its use is skyrocketing.

Arkansas has already banned this pesticide. We can do the same in Pennsylvania and in other states across the country. Add your name to our petition today: T ell Gov. Tom Wolf it’s time to ban dicamba.

Nationwide, hundreds of reports have come in about dicamba drift harming neighbors’ trees and farms. 2 And that’s leading to a showdown in state governments, with pesticide manufacturers arguing against limits, and farmers and citizen advocates arguing for them . 3 That’s why it’s crucial that you tell Gov. Tom Wolf how you feel.

If enough states enact bans on dicamba, and enough people speak up about the need for caution, the EPA might consider doing the right thing nationwide. But we can’t do this without you — add your name to call on Gov. Tom Wolf to ban dicamba in Pennsylvania today.

Why should we be concerned about dicamba use? The EPA’s human health assessment shows that 1- and 2-year-old infants are the group most heavily exposed to dicamba on their food. 4

At the very least, the EPA should exercise caution before allowing toxic pesticides on the market.

Instead, the agency allowed a new version of dicamba to go to market without being tested by independent researchers , and despite its own research that this drifting pesticide would pose a danger to crops and human health when sprayed widely. 5

Nathaniel, it’s simple: When it comes to pesticides, we should exercise caution. We shouldn’t allow the use of potentially toxic pesticides unless and until they are proven safe.

Because dicamba can travel, we have no assurance that it isn’t also spreading to homes, schools and playgrounds.

Monsanto should have known this product could drift. The EPA fast-tracked a new version without completely testing its drift potential. But we have a chance to do the right thing here in Pennsylvania. Add your name today.

Thank you,

Adam Garber
PennPIRG

1. Caitlin Dewey, ” This Miracle Weed Killer Was Supposed to Save Farms. Instead, It’s Devastating Them ,” The Washington Post, August 29, 2017.
2. American Association of Pesticide Control Officials, ” Dicamba ,” September 6, 2018.
3. Daniel Charles, ” A Drifting Weedkiller Puts Prized Trees At Risk ,” KCUR, September 27, 2018
4. Olga Naldenko, ” EPA Chief Backs Another Pesticide Harmful To Kids ,” Environmental Working Group, October 30, 2017.
5. Olga Naldenko, ” EPA Chief Backs Another Pesticide Harmful To Kids ,” Environmental Working Group, October 30, 2017.

“Poisoning Paradise”: new film on pesticides and fighting back

“Poisoning Paradise,” produced by Pierce Brosnan, about pesticides in Hawaii. 7 p.m., Friday November 2, room 101 BPMC, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383. What are your health risks from chemical exposure? Let’s talk about it.

Sponsored by West Chester University, Sierra Club, PennFuture, PennEnvironment, and Don’t Spray Me!

Expert panel, Q&A, activities for children, refreshments, tours of the LEED-certified Business and Public Management Center, community group displays. Brief presentation of 2018 awards by West Goshen supervisor Chris Pielli and SEPA Sierra Club leader Jim Wylie.

Park across Sharpless St. in the public parking garage or in metered spaces on Sharpless or Church St. (on-street parking should be free on this evening; check wording on the meter).

Environmental film series, first Fridays in fall, film at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30.

Trailer here.

One more poison to fight!

“The EPA Says Farmers Can Keep Using Weedkiller Blamed For Vast Crop Damage, by Dan Charles, NPR, November 1, 2018

For months, farmers from Mississippi to Minnesota have been waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to make up its mind about a controversial weedkiller called dicamba. Some farmers love the chemical; other farmers, along with some environmentalists, consider it a menace, because it’s prone to drifting in the wind, damaging nearby crops and wild vegetation.

This week, on Halloween evening, the EPA finally announced its decision. Calling dicamba “a valuable pest control tool,” it gave farmers a green light to keep spraying the chemical on new varieties of soybeans and cotton that have been genetically modified to tolerate dicamba.

A coalition of environmental groups that had filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s original approval of dicamba blasted the decision to keep it on the market. Paul Achitoff from Earthjustice said in a statement that “EPA’s disregard of both the law and the welfare of … species at risk of extinction is unconscionable.”…

read more at NPR

To larvicide or not to larvicide?

Larviciding is widely considered the prime means of reducing mosquito populations. Killing larvae is much easier than killing adults, because the larvae are in limited areas of water, whereas adults can be flying around anywhere in the air up to a height of something like 20 feet or sheltering in or under plants, in tree hollows, under porches and basement entryways, and in other areas where airborne spray may not penetrate well.

Furthermore, larvicides are not chemical toxins and affect only mosquitoes and some other species of insect pests, whereas airborne pesticides have collateral damage, killing many non-targeted insects and possibly harming other species.

The larvicide you can buy in the hardware store is the bacteria-based Bti “dunks.” According to the PA DEP, “Bti produces toxins that specifically affect the larvae of only mosquitoes, black flies and fungus gnats. These toxins do not affect other types of insects including honey bees.”

Another widely-used larvicide, methoprene is a growth regulating “juvenile hormone” that prevents insect larvae from maturing into adults.

PA West Nile website home page extols the benefits of larviciding. Indeed, larval control is an important part of the Chester County Health Department’s 2018 application for a grant from PA DEP (download here: DEP DH contract for 2018:

So wouldn’t we expect that the County would be regularly larviciding in West Chester Borough, which the Health Department has been regularly identifying as having high “Vector Indexes” (likely from breeding in storm drains)? Unfortunately not. In fact, the County has conducted only ten larvicide events in the Borough in the last 4 years! See the locationsn black on this map constructed by the 2018 Don’t Spray Me! / Sierra Club intern Kyle Erisman on the basis of geographical coordinates obtained by a Right To Know request to the PA DEP:

We hope that the Borough will, as planned, successfully take larviciding into its own hands beginning in 2019.

Roundup Facing Its Judges

from Food First

Glyphosate is everywhere: in our food, in our water, in our soils.

After her best selling film and book, The World according to Monsanto, award-winning journalist Marie-Monique Robin presents her newest documentary, Roundup Facing Its Judges, covering the devastating impact of glyphosate-based herbicides used around the world. Roundup Facing Its Judges brings us the voices of the workers, farmers, and communities at the forefront of glyphosate exposure to demonstrate the scale of one of the greatest environmental and health scandals in modern history. Filmed throughout the International Monsanto Tribunal held in The Hague, you will also hear from scientists, lawyers, and doctors who reveal evidence of glyphosate’s dangers while also exposing the consequences of agribusiness’ power over our global food system….

read more, view trailer, order book at Food First. Image from trailer:

New Study Shows Roundup Kills Bees

Sierra, 10/3/18

Glyphosate targets undesired weeds—as well as honeybees

The most widely sprayed herbicide in the world kills honeybees, according to a new report.

Glyphosate, an herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weed killer, targets enzymes long assumed to be found only in plants. The product is advertised as being innocuous to wildlife. But some bacteria also use this enzyme, including a microbiome found in the intestines of most bees. When pollinators come in contact with glyphosate, the chemical reduces this gut bacteria, leaving bees vulnerable to pathogens and premature death.

“The bee itself has no molecular targets from glyphosate,” Nancy Moran, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “But its gut bacteria do have targets.”

Moran and other scientists liken glyphosate exposure to taking too many antibiotics—and upsetting the balance of good bacteria that supports immunity and digestion….

read more at Sierra

Sierra Club Youth Corps, summary 2017-

The Sierra Club Youth Corps is a summer program offered by Don’t Spray Me! beginning in 2017.

As part of the Sustainability Committee of Sierra Club’s Southeastern PA Group, Don’t Spray Me! works toward Sierra Club’s goal of cutting back human practices harmful to nature and human health.

In SCYC’s 2017 project, organized by Margaret and Jim Hudgings, a group of high school students (photo below by Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 7/17/17) experimented on neighborhood sidewalks to show that a non-toxic solution is effective in fighting weeds in brick sidewalks.

This anti-Roundup weed-killing formula consists of:

1 gallon distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap

How to do it: Pour a small amount of vinegar into your, then pour the salt into the jug of vinegar and shake it vigorously. Pour the salted vinegar into the sprayer and add the liquid dish soap. Swirl the sprayer to mix in the soap, but not so much as to generate suds. Spray it on the target weeds, ideally in the morning of a very sunny day. When finished, spray plain water for a few seconds to clean the wand.

SCYC’s 2018 project, Adopt A Drain, was organized by geologist Rachel Davis. Thanks to a generous Sierra Club Grassroots Network grant, we were able to hire West Chester University graduate student Kyle Erisman to be part of the field surveys and particularly to produce GIS mapping of storm drains in the Borough.

Participants, under careful guidelines, walked selected streets to locate storm drains, clear above-ground blockage (including environmentally damaging plastic bags), peered through the street grills, and reported to the Borough Department of Public Works whether drains needed attention as being clogged below ground or containing potentially mosquito-breeding stagnant water (below: map by Kyle Erisman showing drains, streams, and other features).

In 2019, we plan to continue this project by organizing citizens to patrol storm drains in their neighborhoods and report drainage problems to the Borough, while reorienting the Sierra Club Youth Corps to another innovative and educational project.

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate NOW

from Friends of the Earth, 10/4/18

The USDA tests our food for pesticides to make sure it’s safe for us to eat. But it’s not testing for glyphosate — a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®.

The California Supreme Court recently affirmed that glyphosate is dangerous to humans. The World Health Organization named it as a probable carcinogen. And the EU and Canada are already testing for it in food.

The USDA is dragging its feet on protecting us from this toxic pesticide. We need your help to change that!

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate.

The science is clear. Roundup® is terrible for people and the planet. It’s used to douse our food, including common crops like soy and wheat. This toxic pesticide is ending up on our plates and in our bodies.

The amount of Roundup® being used each year has increased significantly. Use jumped from only 11 million pounds in 1987 to nearly 300 million pounds in 2016.

That means Roundup® is sneaking into our food in increasingly dangerous ways. This summer, new tests revealed glyphosate in cereal and granola bars commonly eaten by kids….

read more details and sign here.

What’s the big public health crisis here? (update)

Number of deaths in Chester County, 2015-18 to date:

from West Nile Virus: 0.

from flu (data for those years from PA Department of Health and Philly Voice): 34 (extrapolating from 221 + 64 + 149 + 156 + 256 in PA X 520,000 approx. County population / 12,825,000 approx. PA population) (more than 80,000 Americans died from flu in the 2017-18 season; flu deaths tend to start in October)

from homicides and suicides: 7 + 52 = 59, per Chesco Coroner

from drug overdoses according to OverdoseFreePA: 415. (In the US: more than 72,000 deaths in 2017.)

Opioid deaths in Chesco and PA are rising dramatically while WNV deaths have averaged under 2 a year in the entire state, according to CDC (one so far in 2018).

Could the Health Department use its mosquito control funding more beneficially to reduce actual causes of death in the County?

Could the Chesco Department of Drug and Alcohol Services, which deals with opioid issues, put to good use the public resources that the Health Department is using to track and spray for mosquitoes?

The latest drug scourge, the herbal supplement kratom, has killed two Chesco residents this year, in April and June. Searching the County web site turns up only a 8/20/18 press release from the Coroner’s Office (which provoked attention in the media) and a couple of presentations for professionals.

Why does the County give little public attention to a drug that has killed 2 this year, compared to a flurry of spraying and press releases concerning West Nile Virus, which has killed just one person in Chester County in 2001-18? (And that one fatal WNV infection since WNV was first recorded here, in an elderly man, was acquired out of state.)

Is the County allocating taxpayers’ resources in the optimal way to support human health, safety, and well-being?

Not to mention warning Chester County residents about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides….