World Health Organisation Says Most Common Weedkiller ‘Probably’ Causes Cancer

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In March, 2015, 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC; Lyon, France) to assess the carcinogenicity of the organophosphate pesticides tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (table). These assessments will be published as volume 112 of the IARC Monographs.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food. There was limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides. The AHS cohort did not show a significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In male CD-1 mice, glyphosate induced a positive trend in the incidence of a rare tumour, renal tubule carcinoma. A second study reported a positive trend for haemangiosarcoma in male mice. Glyphosate increased pancreatic islet-cell adenoma in male rats in two studies. A glyphosate formulation promoted skin tumours in an initiation-promotion study in mice.

Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations. Bacterial mutagenesis tests were negative. Glyphosate, glyphosate formulations, and AMPA induced oxidative stress in rodents and in vitro. The Working Group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A).

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2,4-D Herbicide Deadly To Earthworms In Laboratory Tests

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Laboratory tests were conducted to compare the effects of various concentrations of glyphosate and 2,4-D on earthworms (Eisenia foetida) cultured in Argissol during 56 days of incubation. The effects on earthworm growth, survival, and reproduction rates were verified for different exposure times. Earthworms kept in glyphosate-treated soil were classified as alive in all evaluations, but showed gradual and significant reduction in mean weight (50%) at all test concentrations. For 2,4-D, 100% mortality was observed in soil treated with 500 and 1,000 mg/kg. At 14 days, 30%-40% mortality levels were observed in all other concentrations. No cocoons or juveniles were found in soil treated with either herbicide. Glyphosate and 2,4-D demonstrated severe effects on the development and reproduction of Eisenia foetida in laboratory tests in the range of test concentrations.

LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20658223

Glyphosate Sublethal Effects On The Population Dynamics Of The Earthworm

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Pesticides’ sublethal effects are not regularly taken into account when assessing agrochemical’s toxicity. With the objective of detecting chronic, sublethal effects of the widely used herbicide glyphosate, an experiment was performed using the earthworm Eisenia fetida as model organism. Earthworm adults were randomly assigned to three glyphosate treatments: control (no glyphosate), regular dose for perennial weeds, and double dose. Six E. fetida individuals were placed in each pot. Two random pots were taken weekly from each treatment and the number of adults, individual weight, number of cocoons, and presence and number of young earthworms were recorded. A matrix analysis was performed with the data. The matrix population model built showed that while the control population had a positive growth rate, both glyphosate treatments showed negative growth rates. The results suggest that under these sublethal effects, non-target populations are at risk of local extinction, underscoring the importance of this type of studies in agrochemical environmental risk assessment.
Capsule:
Non-target organisms can be at risk of local extinction due to agrochemicals chronic sublethal effects, which are not consistently taken into account in toxicity and risk assessment studies.

LINK: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11270-014-2207-3
LOOK INSIDE (first 2 pages): http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11270-014-2207-3/lookinside/000.png & http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11270-014-2207-3/lookinside/001.png

Teaching Manual On Organic Farming And Gardening

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I found this “resource for instructors” when browsing the net and thought it would be useful for all, teacher or not. The document is 700 pages long so I’ve not had a chance to review it all yet but it’s an outstanding free resource, it also proives a good structure for those to test their knowledge on organic growing. They are also pointpoint presentations and videos on the link below so be sure to check those free resources out too.

“This manual is revolutionary, because of how dominant the chemical- and resource-intensive paradigmfor growing plants has become. As the world population grows and our climate changes, agricultural and food systems are ever more stressed and will be so for years to come. Diversified farming systems employing the techniques described in this manual absolutely can feed the world, as many studies continue to prove. If the future of food and agriculture is at all sustainable and just, it is far more likely to employ the methods in this manual than so-called conventional agricultural techniques. But perhaps most important for you, our readers, this manual is useful because it works. The practices described here can be employed in a variety of climates, soils, and educational settings. The information on soil science provides a solid grounding for the practices described, and the units on social and environmental issues offer a broader context for those interested in sustainable agriculture.”

LINK: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/index.html
EBOOK: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/PDF-downloads/TOFG-all.pdf
DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/teaching_organic_farming_pdf.pdf

Study Says Allotment Soil Is Better Than Conventional Farm Land For Food Growing

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Soil report shows we should all grow more of our own – New research confirms that soil in allotments and back gardens is richer – and more productive – than on farms

Soil is one of the great failures of modern intensive agriculture. Healthy soils, beneath natural grasslands and – especially – woodlands, contain lots of organic matter. This organic matter holds onto nutrients and gives the soil structural stability, allowing it to resist damage by, for example, heavy rain, thus preventing erosion. There’s also plenty of life in a healthy soil, lots of burrowing earthworms, and so lots of pore space too. A healthy soil is basically a giant sponge, which fills up with water after rain, gradually releasing that water to plants in dry weather.

When land is cleared for agriculture, and especially for arable crops, all that goes out of the window. The organic matter in arable soils is lost to the atmosphere as CO2, and the soil loses its structure and strength, leading to compaction and erosion. Arable soils also lose their ability to hold onto water, nutrients and pollutants, leaking nutrients into groundwater and lakes and rivers, causing eutrophication and, if the water is for human use, the need for expensive water treatment.

Although this is all depressingly well-known, the conventional view is that all this soil degradation is the price we have to pay for the high yields of arable crops on which we all depend. But, says new research just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology [Urban cultivation in allotments maintains soil qualities adversely affected by conventional agriculture], gardening proves the conventional view to be completely wrong. The researchers looked at the properties of soils on allotments in Leicester, along with those from other urban sites, and compared them with soils beneath arable fields and pasture in the countryside around Leicester.

The arable soils showed all the usual symptoms: compacted, lifeless and low in organic matter. Allotment soils, by contrast, were more open, more fertile, and higher in organic matter, in fact they weren’t all that different from soils beneath woodland. The reason isn’t hard to find: composting of allotment waste is virtually universal among allotment holders, most also import household green waste as well, and use of manure and other kinds of commercial compost is widespread. In short, soils on allotments are healthy because allotment holders go to a lot of trouble to keep them that way.

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