Don’t Spray Me! events


If you can’t see the calendar above, click here.
See also the Chesco Environment Calendar here.

It’s Farmer v. Monsanto in Court Fight Over Dicamba Herbicide

Sierra magazine, 2/3/20

Bader Farms claims Monsanto induces farmers to buy dicamba-tolerant seeds

A showdown is underway in the Midwest as the owner of a large Missouri peach farm seeks to hold the former Monsanto Co. accountable for millions of dollars in damage to his crops—losses the farmer claims resulted from a corporate strategy to induce farmers to buy high-priced specialty seeds and chemicals.

The trial got underway on January 27 in US District Court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Farmer Bill Bader, who has grown peaches in Missouri’s “Bootheel” region for 40 years, is seeking more than $20 million. The lawsuit alleges that Bader Farms lost more than 30,000 trees due to Monsanto’s actions, in collaboration with German chemical giant BASF, to profit from a new cropping system involving genetically engineered seeds designed to tolerate dousing of the herbicide dicamba.

Bader claims Monsanto sold GMO dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton seeds despite knowing the actions would trigger chemical damage to farm fields that were not planted with the new seeds. The intent, the Bader Farms’ lawsuit alleges, was to induce farmers to buy the specialty seeds as a means to prevent crop damage from herbicide drift coming from neighboring farmers who were planting the GMO crops and spraying them with dicamba.

Testing showed that leaves of his dying peach trees carried traces of dicamba. The 5,000-acre family farm, which produced 5 million to 6 million pounds of peaches annually along with corn, soybeans, various berries, apples, and tomatoes, is now struggling to survive, according to Bader.

Monsanto, which was bought by Bayer AG in 2018, and BASF, which initially developed dicamba in the 1950s, have claimed that other factors are to blame for Bader’s problems on his farm, including a soil fungus. The companies deny they have any liability for his losses. 

But among the evidence introduced at the Bader Farms trial are internal Monsanto documents showing that the company predicted thousands of drift complaints would occur after its new seed product launch.

Bader is only one of a large and growing group of US farmers who say they are the victims of a clearly foreseen chemical catastrophe many years in the making that has ruined crops covering millions of acres of farmland….

read more at Sierra

Photo by Bacsica/iStockBy Carey Gillam

Main US Manufacturer Stops Production of Pesticide Chlorpyrifos after Links to Child Health Damage

by Sustainable Pulse Feb 7 2020

Corteva Agriscience will end production of the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos by the end of this year. The company, formerly part of Dow Chemical, has been under increasing scrutiny from environmental and public health advocates for decades and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been in court over the toxic agricultural chemical repeatedly….

read more at Sustainable Pulse

Glyphosate exposure in pregnancy and shortened gestational length: a prospective Indiana birth cohort study

Environmental Health, volume 17, Article number: 23 (2018)

[short version: 93% of the pregnant women in the study had detectable levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and “these levels correlated significantly with shortened pregnancy lengths.”]

Background

Glyphosate (GLY) is the most heavily used herbicide worldwide but the extent of exposure in human pregnancy remains unknown. Its residues are found in the environment, major crops, and food items that humans, including pregnant women, consume daily. Since GLY exposure in pregnancy may also increase fetal exposure risk, we designed a birth-cohort study to determine exposure frequency, potential exposure pathways, and associations with fetal growth indicators and pregnancy length….

keep reading at Environmental Health

Impossible Burger Attacks Moms for Publishing Pesticide Results

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola, 6/4/19

Story at-a-glance

  • When tested by consumer advocacy group Moms Across America (MAA), concerning levels of the herbicide glyphosate were found in the Impossible Burger
  • The total result of glyphosate and AMPA, the main metabolite of glyphosate, in the Impossible Burger was 11.3 parts per billion (ppb)
  • The Impossible Burger is made mostly of genetically engineered (GE) soy protein, a highly-processed ingredient that’s not real food…

Keep reading at Dr. Joseph Mercola, and for even worse news:

Tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed the highest glyphosate level — 2,837 ppb — was found in Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal,14 a level that makes Impossible Burger’s glyphosate level seem good by comparison — but that’s precisely the sad point….

Tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed the highest glyphosate level — 2,837 ppb — was found in Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal,14 a level that makes Impossible Burger’s glyphosate level seem good by comparison — but that’s precisely the sad point.

West Chester Borough asks County for notification of spraying to all schools

The following letter was presented to the County Commissioners at their Nov. 19 meeting by Borough Council member Bernie Flynn.

Borough of West Chester, 401 East Gay Street ▪ West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380, http://www.west-chester.com, 610-692-7574

Borough Council Diane LeBold, President; Michael R. Galey, Esq., Vice President; W. Donald Braceland; Bernard J. Flynn; Michael Stefano; Denise Polk, Ph.D.; William J. Scott, Esq.Mayor Dianne Herrin
Borough Manager Michael A. Perrone, C.B.O.

October 22, 2019

Chester County Commissioners, 313 West Market Street, Suite 6202, West Chester, PA 19380

RE: Notification Process on the Application of Pesticides and Herbicides

Dear Commissioners Kichline, Cozzone, and Farrell,

West Chester Borough Council voted at their September 18, 2019, Council meeting to urge the Chester County Commissioners to require notification to all schools and daycares prior to spraying pesticides and herbicides in the Borough of West Chester. Currently, only public schools are notified. Council believes that all charter, private, independent, and religious schools and daycare centers have a right to be notified prior to spraying pesticides and herbicides within 300 feet of their facility, just as public schools are.

The Borough of West Chester would appreciate your consideration of this request at your next Commissioners’ meeting. Council member Bernie Flynn plans to attend the meeting to follow up with you.

Best regards,

Michael A. Perrone, C.B.O., Borough Manager

C: Borough Council; Robert Kagel, County Administrator

Farewell to Gail and Les Silberman!

Gail and Les Silberman, activists in Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team, are leaving West Chester and moving to Woods Hole, MA.  Their environmental colleagues here are so sorry to lose them from our community.  

Both Gail and Les have contributed a great deal in a range of areas.  Gail’s posts on the Next Door site brought in many new members to the Green Team’s Plastic-Free Please committee. The online responses suggested the depth of support in the community for such an initiative, which passed Borough Council last summer after a turnout of 200 residents advocated for it.  Next month, Downingtown Borough Council plans to follow our lead and pass a ban on plastic bags and straws effective July 2, 2020.  Even Philadelphia has been influenced by our work on plastics.  Thank you, Gail, for your leadership.  

We have particularly appreciated Les’ realistic insights into the personalities we work with. His advice on interactions with allies and those resistant to our goals has proven invaluable. His scientific and medical expertise have contributed to many fruitful discussions both through his membership on the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and on the Board of Don’t Spray Me.!

Both Gail and Les have enriched the community environmentally.  They will be greatly missed.

Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team offer them our heartfelt best wishes.

The Biggest Little Farm (film) Nov. 20 at WCU

And it’s a non-toxic farm!

Room 102, Mitchell Hall, WCU, West Chester PA 19382. Nov. 20, 7:30 pm.

The Biggest Little Farm is a story about two people who left the city behind in an effort to revitalize barren farm land and live more harmoniously with the earth. This recently released film has been generating a lot of excitement for its inspiring tale and gorgeous cinematography.

Sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, the Slow Food Club, and the West Chester Green Team. See trailer at https://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/videos/.

Free and open to the public.

Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

Power County Wind Farm

As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.

The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!

Clean Economy

Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.

  • Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
  • Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states

People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!

Clean Health

A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.

  • The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
  • Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)

Clean Reliability

Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.

  • In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
  • Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy

If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:

For more info, please visit reinventingpowerfilm.org

As winter approaches, plan less-toxic measures against snow and ice

If you feel inclined to stock up on sodium chloride to apply to your sidewalk, here are some thoughts first:

Salt is harsh on pet’s feet, car undercarriages, footwear, wood floors… to say nothing of plants and water life. See also “The problem with Salt” on our site.

Salt spread on a dry surface, as often happens, is kicked up by passing cars, thus counterproductively pushing the salt to the edges of the driving surface and wafting chemicals into the air breathed by passersby and residents, with potential adverse health impacts.

Here are some ideas from Minnesota (where they know something about winter!) for reducing, but unfortunately not eliminating, your use of salt, in 4 earth-friendly tips to clean up your icy sidewalk” by Cody Nelson, MPR News, January 11, 2018:

The salt we’re so inclined to dump on roads and sidewalks after winter storms is a growing threat to Minnesota’s lakes and streams.

Chloride — the mineral in salt that’s toxic to fish, birds and other aquatic life — is now considered an impairment in 50 bodies of water across the state. Scientists only expect that number to rise.

While large-scale salt application is the biggest culprit, there are some things individuals can do to minimize their impact:

1) Break out the shovel. If you’re going to use salt, first clear off as much snow and ice as you can with a shovel or scraper. Manual removal is more effective, and it’s cheaper.

2) Don’t dump. A little salt goes a long way. Spread it out. According to Clean Water Minnesota, “a 12-ounce coffee cup of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.”

3) Check the temperature. If it’s below 15 degrees, it’s too cold for salt to effectively melt ice. Consider using sand instead. It won’t melt the ice, but it will increase traction. Plus, sand is easier on your pet’s paws.

4) Sweep up excess salt. It’ll end up as runoff into waterways or the soil. Clean Water Minnesota recommends sweeping up whatever salt is left sitting on the pavement so you can reuse it after the next storm.

To the left: pile of taxpayer-financed road salt in a West Chester alley, 2/21/21, prior to being swept up and donated to a neighboring landscaper for (sparing) use. This is a big pile; the trowel to the right of the bag gives the scale.

Some other ideas:

• Mix sand with salt. Sand will give traction that salt doesn’t.

• Experiment with mixing in other substances like (unused) kitty litter or fireplace wood ashes.
.
• And about sweeping up excess salt, as shown above: keep an eye on streets and alleys!

• West Goshen municipality adds de-sugared beet molasses to reduce salt use and also the temperature at which salt can melt ice.

• For other alternatives, search the internet for “What melts snow besides salt” and check out results such as this article and this commercial product.

See also, from Minnesota: “‘Dead fish or dead people?’ The challenges of curbing road salt use” and “Shingle Creek: A cautionary tale for Minnesota’s water.”

If you wish to share your observations or good ideas, please comment here or contact us.

Trash cans that keep out water

Who cares if rain water builds up in trash cans? Everyone should, because:

1) In warm weather, the accumulated water provides ideal breeding opportunities for mosquitoes: warm dank stagnant water with lots of organic matter;

2) The can or bag becomes heavier for disposal crews to pick up and the waterlogged trash is more expensive to put in the landfill;

3) If the water is dumped on the ground, or runs out through holes in the bag or container, it can generate mud and mess (think soft drinks, improperly deposited animal waste, bits of pizza filling…) — especially not what one wants children and pets poking around in.

Here’s a trash can model designed to keep out water: