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This chapter uses the lens of political ecology and environmental history to interrogate the use of pesticides in tobacco farming in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from 1945 to 1980, and their effects on the human body, the body politic and the natural environment. It traces the growth of pesticide use from the end of the Second World War, which saw a turning point in the global pesticides’ regime as crop chemicals such as DDT became widespread. It explores the problems that arose with the use of these pesticides and connects this narrative with the various global debates on ‘environmentalism’ that arose in the 1960s, and how this impacted on the evolution of legislation and policies to curtail pesticide use in tobacco production in Southern Rhodesia. The chapter constructs a contextual reading of Silent Spring in Southern Rhodesia and Africa.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the book. Motivating the book with examples of various regulatory barriers to agricultural trade that have proven particularly contentious, this chapter asks what might explain these barriers and whether we should expect current international solutions to resolve them. The chapter provides a brief overview of the book’s argument regarding how producers leverage private information to acquire the sorts of regulatory barriers that the opening examples describe. In addition, it previews the book’s main contribution and gives a brief chapter outline.
Focusing on firm-level behavior in the US pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, Chapter 4 provides evidence that companies do indeed seek stricter standards on their own, out-of-patent products in order to boost sales of newer, patented substitutes, even providing negative information about their own products in pursuit of this goal. In order to show this, the chapter leverages petitions submitted by pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies to the US FDA and EPA, respectively, requesting that the agencies place stricter standards or all out bans on products that these companies themselves developed. In the case of the pharmaceutical petitions, the chapter provides evidence that all but one of the requests for a product ban has targeted a drug that is about to lose or has already lost patent protection and for which the company had a more recently patented substitute. This suggests that such requests are not publicly minded attempts to ensure dangerous products remain off the market but, instead, are strategic gambits to boost profits of exclusively produced alternatives. In addition, the chapter provides a statistical analysis of petitions submitted by agrochemical companies and farm groups to show that, whereas farmers are no more likely to seek stricter standards on out-of-patent pesticides, agrochemical companies systematically request stricter standards on these products while requesting more lenient standards on products still enjoying patent protection.
Chapter 5 takes a deep dive into the history of US agrochemical regulation in order to show that innovative companies were a major force behind the adoption of institutions that required the precautionary reevaluation of existing products, in opposition to generic producers who stood to lose out from such institutions. Using an original dataset that tracks changes to US agrochemical regulations over a two decade period, the chapter then provides evidence that in the wake of these institutions’ implementation, regulations have become stricter on older, less profitable products over time for reasons that cannot be attributed to health, safety, or obsolescence alone. In addition, the chapter provides evidence that the mechanism behind this outcome is not the political power of producers but rather their ability to leverage their information advantages under a regulatory regime in which products are subject to precautionary reevaluations.
When governments impose stringent regulations that impede domestic competition and international trade, should we conclude that this is a deliberate attempt to protect industry or an honest effort to protect the population? Regulating Risk offers a third possibility: that these regulations reflect producers' ability to exploit private information. Combining extensive data and qualitative evidence from the pesticide, pharmaceutical, and chemical sectors, the book demonstrates how companies have exploited product safety information to win stricter standards on less profitable products for which they offer a more profitable alternative. Companies have additionally supported regulatory institutions that, while intended to protect the public, also help companies use information to eliminate less profitable products more systematically, creating barriers to commerce that disproportionally disadvantage developing countries. These dynamics play out not only domestically but also internationally, under organizations charged with providing objective regulatory recommendations. The result has been the global legitimization of biased regulatory rules.
Stakeholder participation is an important tenet for European Union (EU) policymaking and it can be approached from different disciplinary angles. The legal literature tends to refer to participation as a formal consultative opportunity in regulatory processes, resulting in rather homogeneous institutional arrangements for participation across policy fields and different sets of problems. Sustainability science, on the other hand, starts from the understanding of a problem in its complexity and peculiarities as a driving force determining both the rationale behind and the design of each participatory process. In this paper, we explore lessons regarding participation that could be derived from adopting an approach in which we combine insights from law and sustainability science. Along four principles, we explore potential leverage points for improving the sustainability of EU decision-making processes and their outcomes.
This chapter examines acute and chronic dietary neurotoxins. One group of acute neurotoxins are plant alkaloids, with ergot poisoning from rye the most notable. Others include the marine neurotoxins, which cause hundreds of thousands of poisonings from seafood that have ingested toxic diatoms/dinoflagellates (e.g., amnestic shellfish poisoning) and from seafood itself (e.g., fugu). Acute neurotoxins also arise from processing, flavourants (e.g., absinthe) and contaminants (e.g., milk sickness). Chronic neurotoxins are diverse, common and sometimes lethal. Prions are one group, in the form of kuru, and mad cow disease. Another is BMAA found in cycad seeds, leading to parkinsonian-like diseases. Reliance on cassava can be problematic if poorly prepared, alongside many bush foods eaten during famine (e.g., grass pea and lathyrism). Lead, aluminium, arsenic and especially mercury can all be ingested, with some tragic examples (e.g., Minamata). Interactions between neurotoxins, vulnerability from poor nutrition and the link to neurodegenerative diseases are also considered.
Responding to mistrust in the European agencies’ risk assessments in politically salient cases, the European Union (EU) legislator, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Agency alike have accelerated their efforts to foster EU regulatory science transparency. These simultaneous endeavours have, however, taken place in a fragmented legislative and administrative context, with each agency operating under a different legal framework. By focusing on authorisation procedures, from registration of studies to authorisation of novel foods, pesticides and human medicines, this article examines the resulting regimes governing the disclosure of scientific data by EU agencies to identify common trends and sectoral specificities. Against the background of an overall shift towards enhanced transparency, we shed light on, first, the circulation of institutional arrangements and practices among agencies and, second, the new dimensions of transparency emerging from these developments. We also highlight the remaining sectoral differences and argue that they could have potentially large impacts on the amount and type of information disclosed and on the level of transparency perceived by stakeholders and citizens. We argue that more coherence across the sectoral transparency regimes is needed, in particular in light of the agencies’ contested legitimacy and of their increasing cooperation on cross-cutting issues like antimicrobial resistance and medicine and pesticide residues in food.
The European Commission’s 2020 draft Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability set the ambitious goal of achieving a “Toxic-Free Environment”. Those ambitions were harshly criticised by a team based in Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (or BfR); they claimed that toxicological risks from chemicals had already been minimised and were optimally regulated. This paper outlines evidence to support the Commission’s implication that the European Union’s chemicals regulatory regime is suboptimal. It also criticises the BfR team’s contentions by reference to empirical findings (eg concerning tumours, congenital anomalies and the toxicity of mixtures) and by disentangling their conceptual confusions.
At least one-third of the land on earth is used for agricultural production and conflicts with the interests of wildlife are inevitable. These conflicts are likely to escalate as the human population expands and as the scale and intensity of agricultural production increases. This paper argues that the same underlying causes frequently affect both wild animal welfare and conservation. Three key threats are discussed: disease transmission from domestic animals and the interventions used to manage wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic diseases; physical operations such as harvesting and the conversion of wildlife habitat to farmland; and the use of agrochemicals, particularly for pest control. While direct effects, such as accidental poisoning, tend to attract the most public attention, it is argued that indirect effects, such as the reduction in food supplies or the disruption of social structures, are likely to be of greater importance. The suffering of pest animals has traditionally been undervalued. There is a need for broader adoption of integrated, ecologically based strategies which minimise suffering and also minimise the numbers of animals involved by preventing population resurgence. New research is urgently required to compare the effects of alternative, economically viable farming strategies on both wildlife conservation and welfare, possibly within the framework of ecosystem services assessments.
Because their multiple reserves are typically lower, older people are more sensitive to the toxic effects of environmental agents. The liver’s ability to detoxify chemicals declines with age, as well as the ability of the kidney to excrete toxins. Everyone, especially the aged, should limit exposure to environmental toxins, including air pollution, solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, and other dangers. Exposure to toxins early in life may lower a person’s physical reserve and result in cognitive impairment with aging. Exposure to pesticides and other toxins has been linked to Parkinson’s. Air pollution is also a risk factor for dementia. Considerable evidence shows that smoking increases the risk of cognitive impairment, stroke, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. Excessive alcohol intake can damage several parts of the body and our physical reserve. It can also impair our cognitive reserve through impaired memory and learning. People over age 60 shouldn’t drink more than two doses of alcohol per day for men and one for women. Alcohol abuse can lead to depression and poor psychological reserve with loss of friends causing impaired social reserve. Excess use of alcohol can also contribute to falls, car accidents, liver damage seizures, and stroke.
Pesticide regulations and application technologies are changing rapidly due to rising concerns around off-target movement of pesticides and increased focus on improving the efficiency of pesticide applications. In order to conduct relevant applied research and develop educational programs related to pesticide application, it is necessary to understand the common application practices and technologies that growers use. A survey was conducted to assess common pesticide application practices and technologies used by Georgia growers. Both online and printed survey copies were distributed by county agricultural extension agents to growers in all 159 counties. A total of 186 responses representing agronomic crops in 65 counties were received and analyzed for results. Main results of this survey indicated that 1) 72% of respondents produced ≥200 ha of crops; 2) 29% of respondents received their information from university Extension personnel; 3) 42% of respondents used a separate sprayer for applications of dicamba, 2,4-D, or 2,4-DB; 4) 46% of respondents used sprayers with boom lengths ≥18.3 m; 5) 65% of respondents used ≥121 L/ha to apply pesticides; 6) 53% of respondents used three or more different nozzles on their spray booms throughout the season; 7) 68% of respondents used TeeJet® nozzles; 8) 65% of respondents used global positioning systems and rate controllers on their application equipment; 9) 66% of respondents recorded their pesticide application data on a notepad or diary; and 10) 39% of respondents reported that application accuracy is the biggest advantage of new spray technologies. Respondents also reported that weather, timing, and pesticide drift/regulations were their biggest application challenges and that more research is needed on topics such as rates, carrier volumes, pest control, chemicals and adjuvants. Information from this survey provides useful insights into the current application practices, technologies, and research needs of Georgia growers and will be used for developing appropriate research and educational efforts.
Despite extensive research into the toxicology of the herbicide glyphosate, there are still major unknowns regarding its effects on the human gut microbiome. We describe the effects of glyphosate and a Roundup glyphosate-based herbicide on infant gut microbiota using SHIME technology. SHIME microbiota culture was undertaken in the presence of a concentration of 100-mg/L glyphosate and the same glyphosate equivalent concentration of Roundup. Roundup and to a lesser extent glyphosate caused an increase in fermentation activity, resulting in acidification of the microbial environment. This was also reflected by an increase in lactate and acetate production concomitant to a decrease in the levels of propionate, valerate, caproate and butyrate. Ammonium production reflecting proteolytic activities was increased by Roundup exposure. Global metabolomics revealed large-scale disturbances, including an increased abundance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Changes in bacterial composition measured by qPCR and 16S rRNA suggested that lactobacilli had their growth stimulated as a result of microenvironment acidification. Co-treatment with the spore-based probiotic formulation MegaSporeBiotic reverted some of the changes in short-chain fatty acid levels. Altogether, our results suggest that glyphosate can exert effects on human gut microbiota.
Irrigation of crops and drainage of excess water have both positive and negative environmental consequences. Irrigation return flows degrade the quality of receiving streamflow as they transport pollutants. Although return flows cannot be entirely eliminated, they can be reduced by appropriate water management and improved conveyance and delivery systems. This chapter briefly discusses the importance of return flows and the pollutants transported by them.
A decision will soon have to be taken regarding the renewal of approval of glyphosate at the European Union (EU) level; this pesticidal active substance, however, is more controversial than ever. This article critically assesses various strategies pursued by EU Member States and regional authorities which challenge the EU approach to glyphosate and aim to safeguard their higher levels of public health and environmental protection. It reflects on the prospects of success of these strategies, and their compatibility with EU law. The analysis includes the action for the annulment of glyphosate's 2017 reapproval brought by the Brussels-Capital Region, the Austrian attempt to enact a blanket ban on glyphosate-based pesticidal formulations, and the more sophisticated strategies pursued by Luxembourg and France. The article concludes that the French strategy is effective in risk regulation terms, and compatible with EU law. Nonetheless, adopting the French approach may prove rather difficult for other Member States, as a result of both structural-regulatory and practical constraints. Rather, an EU-wide strategy on glyphosate is urgently needed.
This article analyses the US and the EU systems of risk regulation through the lens of two ideal models: evidence-based and socially acceptable risk approaches. The examination is conducted against the backdrop of these ideal regulatory paradigms, which broadly inform US and EU risk governance. The article employs an analysis of transatlantic divergencies in the regulation of pesticides and agricultural biotechnologies to illustrate that neither approach can lay claim to neutrality and objectivity; non-scientific normative frames are always at stake in the field of risk regulation. Through these case studies, the article thus challenges the narrative that transatlantic divergencies result from a focus on “risks” or “hazards,” “science” or “politics.” The US and the EU systems reflect different approaches to scientific uncertainty, the pursuit of different levels of protection, and consideration of different non-scientific factors. They also have very different implications. The conclusive section of the article sketches out some final considerations on the strategic vision of the Biden administration. Environmental and public health protection are high on President Biden’s agenda; further, public interest litigation is thriving in the US. Will this be sufficient to break regulatory path dependency and lay the foundations for a paradigm shift in US risk governance?
Parasitoid wasps are key agents for controlling insect pests in integrated pest management programs. Although many studies have revealed that the behavior of parasitic wasps can be influenced by insecticides, the strategies of patch time allocation and oviposition have received less attention. In the present study, we forced the endoparasitoid Meteorus pulchricornis to phoxim exposure at the LC30 and tested the foraging behavior within patches with different densities of the host, the larvae of the tobacco cutworm Spodoptera litura. The results showed that phoxim treatment can significantly increase the patch-leaving tendency of female wasps, while host density had no impact. The number of oviposition and the number of previous patch visits also significantly influenced the patch time allocation decisions. The occurrence of oviposition behavior was negatively affected by phoxim exposure; however, progeny production was similar among patches with different host densities. Phoxim exposure shaped the offspring fitness correlates, including longer durations from cocoon to adult wasps, smaller body size, and shorter longevity. The findings of the present study highlight the sublethal effects that reduce the patch residence time and the fitness of parasitoid offspring, suggesting that the application of phoxim in association with M. pulchricornis should be carefully schemed in agroecosystems.
Describes mounting scientific evidence for individual, lifelong poisoning by man-made chemical emissions, showing how it begins in the womb, continues through childhood, accumulates through life and persists after death. Chemical exposure is mainly from food, drinks, cosmetics and air in the home, workplace, urban and rural environments. Pollution the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today.
This Article frames the precautionary principle as an inner limit to the EU institutions’ broad discretion in the field of EU risk regulation, contextualizing recourse to the principle against the more encompassing backdrop of socially acceptable risk approaches. On these grounds, it inquires to what extent the precautionary principle may be successfully invoked in challenges to acts which are deemed insufficiently protective. The opening sections set the ground for the analysis. The third section analyzes challenges to regulatory acts, arguing that the Court has followed a quantitative threshold approach. This is legally tenable and appropriate; however, it cannot do justice to the true nature of the precautionary principle. The following sections analyze cases involving legislative acts. This includes an in-depth examination of the recent Blaise case, which has put judicial review of compliance with the precautionary principle under the spotlight. Against this overall background, this Article concludes that judicial review can hardly do justice to the precautionary principle, as applicable to the risk management process and underpinning EU legislative frameworks. It will ultimately rest on EU risk managers and EU legislators to ensure that the principle is applied and that its overarching goals are pursued.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic influences health care facilities world-wide. The flow rate, type, and severity of cases presented to emergency departments varied during the pandemic in comparison to the past years. However, this change has not been well-described among the cases of hospital admission due to toxic exposure.
Recognition of the pattern of toxic exposure among the cases refereed to Tanta Poison Control Center (TPCC; Tanta, Egypt) during the past five years, and furthermore, exploration of the impact of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the pattern of presented cases.
The current study is a five-year retrospective, comparative cross-sectional study carried out among acutely intoxicated patients admitted to TPCC during the spring months (March through May) of 2016-2020. A total of 1,916 patients with complete medical records were recruited. The type and manner of toxic exposure, demographic, clinical data, and outcomes were analyzed.
The current study noted that there were delays in time from toxic exposure to emergency services during the lockdown period. This was reflected in significant lower recovery rates (884.8/1,000 population; z = −3.0) and higher death rates (49.4/1,000 population; z = 2.1) despite the marked decrease in the total number of hospital admissions in comparison to the past four years. The lockdown period showed significantly higher phosphides (z = 3.5; χ2 = 34.295; P <.001) and antipsychotics exposure (z = 3.6; χ2 = 21.494; P <.001) than the previous years. However, predominance of female exposure and intentional self-poisoning was maintained over the past five years, including the lockdown.
COVID-19-associated lockdown greatly reformed the usual intoxication pattern of the cases admitted to emergency room. Also, it played a role in delaying time of hospital arrival, which was reflected as lower recovery rates and higher death rates.