Perilous Pesticides

Published in Environment

Good health depends on clean air, clean water and a clean environment. Hvar Island is perfectly placed to offer all those amenities.

Much of the island is indeed unspoiled. But things aren't perfect on or in the ground. 

Hvar boasts over 200 medicinal plants, and there are strong moves to boost their production to create the highest quality branded products, including etheric oils. With the inclusion of the Mediterranean Diet on UNESCO's intangible natural heritage list in 2013, Hvar's natural assets were brought forward on the international stage.

But every year Hvar's natural abundance is being blighted by indiscriminate and copious pesticide use. It seems that many of Hvar's farmers do not know:

  • that pesticides are poisonous to the environment
  • that pesticides remain in the ground for a very long time
  • that long-term use of pesticides creates resistance in the targets
  • that resistance leads to problems such as super-weeds and super-rats
  • that pesticides spread beyond their area of application
  • that pesticides penetrate into the food chain
  • that pesticides harm human health
  • that visitors and many locals want uncontaminated food and drinks
  • that wild plants are beautiful and beneficial
  • that there are alternative ways of controlling unwanted plants
  • that visitors come to see the island's natural beauty, not a chemical wasteland

Widespread use and perceived risks of pesticides

In 2013, the Washington Post, inspired by a special issue of Science magazine about pesticides, posed the question: "We've covered the world in pesticides. Is that a problem?

report published in 2011 by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that in the United States approximately 857 million pounds (lbs) of conventional pesticide active ingredient were applied in 2007, plus about 33 million pounds of organophosphate insecticides. Worldwide, pesticide use was estimated at some 5.2 billion pounds, with the United States accounting for 22%. Herbicides were cited as the most widely used type of pesticide in the agricultural market sector. The EPA stance on pesticides is that "By their very nature, pesticides create some risk of harm... At the same time, pesticides are useful to society. ... Biologically-based pesticides, such as pheromenes and microbial pesticides are becoming increasingly popular and often are safer than traditional chemical pesticides. In addition, EPA is registering reduced-risk conventional pesticides in increasing numbers."

In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded nearly half a million dollars to three universities for projects to reduce the risks from pesticides, including the risks to bees, through encouraging Integrated Pest Management (IPM): "IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally-sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used. These grants will expand public-private stewardship efforts and reduce pesticide risk in agriculture." This was one of several such initiatives to reduce the damage caused by pesticides of all kinds by reducing pesticide use, although stopping far short of recommending a moratorium.

Neonicotinoids were developed in the 1980s and were first registered for use in the United States in 1984. During the 30-odd years since, doubts about their effects began to be expressed and evidence that they might have ill-effects was collected. One of the grants awarded by the EPA in January 2014 amounted to $167,000 for Louisiana State University, to fund a project researching the impact of mosquito control methods on honey bees. The EPA recognised that there were possible problems connected to neonicotinoid use, especially in respect of honey bees and other pollinators, despite initial confidence that they were safer than previous insecticides. Prior to the EPA actions, in May 2013 a lawsuit was raised againt the EPA by beekeepers and environmental groups including Pesticide Action Network (PAN), claiming that the EPA had failed to protect the honey bees despite 'crystal clear' evidence that neonicotinoids were harming them. The EU passed a two-year moratorium, applied as from December 1st 2013, banning the use of three neonicotinoids, clothlanidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam, although this still left five types of neonicotinoids in use. The ban was in response to a report published in January 2013 from the European Food Safety Authority identifying that the three nicotinoids specifically caused various types of harm to honey bees and their larvae. The European Food Safety Authority was not asked to research the effects of the other five neonicotinoids. In August 2013, Syngenta Crop Protection and Bayer CropScience, two agrochemical companies, challenged the short-term ban on the three neonicotinoids in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Pesticides at war

Are we at war with Nature? That's the assumption that underlies the development of pesticides for agricultural use. Pesticides have been, and still are a weapon in warfare between humans, and the long-term effects are as alarming as the short-term effects were devastating. Agent Orange and other pesticides, about 20 million gallons of them, were used by the United States during the Vietnam war. To this day the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs is dealing with servicemen's concerns linked to the practice. Like manufacturer Monsanto, the United States authorities played down claims that the pesticides have caused long-term harm to soldiers' health. After 2010, 260,000 cases were lodged for damages related to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam war. An independent study published in February 2014 in Elsevier's Environmental Research, conducted by Columbia University health-policy Professor Jeanne Mager Stellman suggests that possible harmful exposure did not end with the war. The study demonstrated that contaminated aircraft which were used in the Vietnam war and later as cargo transport could have caused illnesses in the postwar crews. In Vietnam itself, succeeding generations are having to live with the terrible health consequences of the poisons used against their people all those years ago.

 

Humans cannot win a war against nature. We are powerless when there is a major earthquake, tsunami, mudslide, flood or fire. The more herbicides are splashed round the environment, the more resilient the weeds, the more prevalent the superweeds. Similarly, insects targeted by insecticides develop resistance: this happened quickly with DDT because of its widespread undiscriminating use in the late 1940s. It's an ever-increasing spiral. As more powerful pesticides are developed to deal with the new 'threats', more damage is done to the environment, wildlife, and human health. It is recognized that pesticides damage wildlife, and various studies show the dangers to insects such as butterflies and earthworms. Like other pesticides, Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup (Cidokor) and other herbicides, is especially toxic to fish. The situation regarding bee health is now a worldwide concern. There's no pretending that bees are not declining, and while there may be many factors at work, there's no doubt that pesticides are among them. As bees decline, so does our supply of natural healthy foods. On Hvar, honey from bees which have fed on rosemary, lavender or other herbs is particularly prized. Bee-harming chemicals aimed at killing mosquitoes have been sprayed along Hvar's roads routinely for many years, a practice which surely needs to stop.

Flawed premises and processes in pesticide evaluation

The concept that there is a safe level for human ingestion of any kind of poison is absurd. Does anyone deliberately serve up a poisonous mushroom on the assumption that it won't do any harm? Would people who want healthy nutritious food on their plates choose poisons, given an informed choice?

The process by which international organizations investigate, evaluate or validate reports of ill-effects from pesticides is agonizingly slow. The results are often questionable, to say the least. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) established the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) which had its first meeting in 1963 and annually thereafter. In 2005, WHO was warned that a geological survey in Denmark and Greenland had found glyphosate levels in groundwater at 5 times the level permitted under EU permitted levels for drinking water. Being concerned about 'Chemical hazards in drinking-water - glyphosate and AMPA" (Aminothylphosphoric acid, a by-product of Glyphosate), the Joint Meeting was asked to re-evaluate glyphosate. The resulting JMPR report on glyphosate described the results of feeding GM modified maize and soya beans to a lactating goat and six laying hens, and reviewed the various field studies relating to glyphosate, which of course were carried out by the agrochemical firms producing the herbicide. Unsurprisingly, the Meeting concluded that neither long-term nor short-term intake of glyphosate was likely to pose a risk to public health. Did the report reassure those who had expressed concerns about the groundwater pollution? I doubt it.

A 2006 JMPR report sponsored jointly by FAO and WHO with the support of the International Programme on Chemical Safety was entitled 'Pesticide residues in food - 2006. Toxicological evaluations'. It starts with a disclaimer that "The summaries and evaluations contained in this book are, in most cases, based on unpublished proprietary data submitted for the purpose of the JMPR assessment". Indeed. That doesn't sound either balanced or objective. Thirteen main types of pesticides are evaluated through animal studies conducted on behalf of the agrochemical firms. For instance Crompton Corporation, part of agrochemical company Chemtura, submitted 29 unpublished papers relating to Bifenazate, a new acaricide for killing spider mites, "intended for use on apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes, strawberries, grapes, hops and ornamentals". Boscalid is a fungicide used "against a broad spectrum of diseases in a wide range of crops", and thirty unpublished studies submitted by BASF AG Germany were evaluated by the JMPR. Bayer CropScience (Germany) submitted 142 unpubished studies in support of cyfluthrin, "a synthetic cyano-containing pyrethroid insecticide", and its derivative beta-cyfluthrin, a new combination at the time of the report.

The studies submitted for the evaluation involved unspeakable suffering for hundreds of animals subjected to inhumane experiments, including dogs, goats, rats, rabbits and hens. In the 2006 report, most of the unpublished studies evaluated were classified as comnplying with good laboratory practice. However, in the case of cyfluthrin: "Not all pivotal studies with cyfluthrin were certified as being compliant with good laboratory practice (GLP). These studies were carried out before the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines on GLP were promulgated. However, the quality of these studies was considered to be acceptable."

Effects seen in the laboratory from tests on rats, mice, dogs or other animals are not necessarily relevant to the human experience. If nothing else, humans don't live under laboratory conditions. Long-term ill-effects from ingesting pesticides, the effects on unborn babies and those on growing children can only be seen through experience and observation over the years. Can we afford to wait and see?

Science and myth

The principle of killing plants with poisons is hard to understand or justify. Science is being misused to support pesticide use. Chemical pesticides have been in use for many decades on the assumption that they are 'safe' - until proven otherwise. New pesticides are always touted as being safer than previous versions, very often on the flimsiest evidence. DDT was sold on a large scale in the United States and round the world as the definitive answer to the problem of invasive and illness-causing insects such as the malarial mosquito. A 1947 propaganda film promoting the product for malaria control even showed a character depicting an entomologist apparently eating the poison in a bowl of porridge. Another propaganda film from 1946 aimed at the American market enthused about the use of DDT in the form of Pestroy as an insecticide to be used in all corners of the home, as well as through blanket bombing from aircraft.

DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, although doubts about DDT's safety had been voiced many years previously, most strongly through Rachel Carson's book 'Silent Spring', published in 1962. The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants, with 152 signatories, came into effect in 2004. It established complete bans on several pesticides, and restricted use for DDT, which could still be used against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Cause for concern

Data concerning the effects of pesticides are collected and collated on a database called 'Beyond Pesticides, Protecting Health and the Environment with Science, Policy and Action'.' It lists asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and several types of cancer as being linked to pesticides with increasing certainty.

Neurological diseases associated with pesticides are a particular concern. For instance, links between Glyphosate (the active agent in herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup or Syngenta's Touchdown) with Parkinson's disease have been demonstated in a 2003 study from Brazil, a 2011 study from China reporting on a patient who had worked in a factory producing glyphosate, and a 2012 study entitled 'Glyphosate induced cell death through apoptotic and autophagic mechanisms'. In January 2013, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) published a study linking a fungicide called benomyl with Parkinson's disease. That fungicide has been banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In February 2014, the UCLA researchers published a further study investigating possible links between a number of other pesticides and Parkinson's disease. They found eleven which could increase the risk of developing Parkinson's, even at lower levels than were commonly used in practice, while fifteen others showed no increased risk. Most worrying was the statement by lead author Jeff Bronstein that "These pesticides are pretty ubiquitous and can be found in our food supply. They are used in parks and golf courses and in pest control inside buildings and homes. So this significantly broadens the number of people at risk".

Kidney damage has been linked to pesticide use in countries across the world, with epidemics of a rare kidney disease killing thousands of people. Although the exact causes of the disease have not been established, there has been enough certainty to cause countries like El Salvador to pass measures in September 2013 banning commonly used pesticides, including Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup / Cidokor.

Animal studies showed that some pesticides were carcinogenic before this could be proved in humans. Gradually, proof is emerging that human cancers can also be caused by pesticides. Glyphosate has been linked to breast cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in January 2013 identified four insecticides (three organophosphate and one organochlorine) as being specifically linked to aggressive prostate cancers. DDT and other pesticides have been linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as have several other types of pesticide, for instance in a Canadian study published in 'Cancer Epidemiology' in 2001, and in another Canadian study from 2013 published by Springer Link. Glyphosate was among the pesticides associated with an increased risk of hairy cell leukaemia, a sub-type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, in a 2002 Swedish study published in 'Leukaemia and Lymphoma'. Pesticides have been strongly linked to childhood cancers, not only through direct exposure, but in cases where the child's father is exposed to pesticides.

Knowledge, awareness and experience

Science is moving slowly - and, it seems, reluctantly - to establish facts about ill-effects from pesticides. Sponsored studies and the arguments of the agrochemical companies are accepted at face value by many regulators, while independent studies showing evidence of pesticide risks and ill-effects are often ignored, sometimes even denigrated. The voices of those opposed on reasonable and scientific grounds to pesticide use are drowned out by the commercial chorus of the chemical profiteers.

The principle of allowing the agrochemical firms to set the stage in evaluating pesticides is deeply flawed. Poisons are being produced and marketed in frightening numbers and quantities all the time. Claims that they are safe are almost invariably on shaky ground, and most often proven untrue over time. The 2005 JMPR report on glyphosate stated very tellingly in its introduction: "Information that would be useful for the continued evaluation of the compound: Results from epidemiological, occupational health and other such observational studies of human exposure".

Full-blown scientific studies come late after the events, and have to catch up with the latest developments in the agrochemical world. The real effects of pesticides could best be seen in detailed information collected by healthcare workers. Questions about pesticide use and exposure should be as routine as asking whether the patient smokes or drinks alcohol. A question which will become increasingly important as genetically modified foods enter the Croatian market is whether the patient looks to buy organic foods and other products or not.

In the United Kingdom, even in the 1980s there was a lot of awareness of pesticide-related problems in medical circles. Myalgic encephalomyelitis, a type of chronic fatigue syndrome, was known to be endemic among farmers, especially fruit farmers, although pesticide exposure is not listed directly as a possible causative factor in current UK National Health Service information about the illness. Some years ago in the UK, a farmer came to me for treatment because of an extremely painful and swollen hand, which had been a problem for some weeks, without any obvious cause. After exhaustive investigations, it turned out that the cause was Paraquat poisoning, a herbicide he had been using on his kitchen garden. A homeopath colleague provided the cure, which took some time. Sadly, a few years later, the patient developed leukaemia. Meanwhile, his son, who did most of the large-scale spraying on their conventionally-run farm, had suffered years of ill-health with myalgic encephalomyelitis.

 

On Hvar there are surprising numbers of people who suffer from poor health. Smoking is a big factor in many of the illnesses, but it is likely that pesticide exposure plays a large part, especially in the many cases of leukaemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease and hormonal disruptions in young women. 

The dangers of pesticides show up through practice and experience. It's a risky and costly experiment in terms of environmental and human health. Poisons are just that, and poisons carry risks of harm. They should not be released for use in the environment anywhere in the world unless they are proven safe beyond doubt. As that is not possible without human experimentation, they should not be used at all.

Pesticide penetration

Pesticides have far-reaching effects. Glyphosate, for instance, has spread, way beyond the theoretical predictions. It has been found in ground-water, despite the original assurances that this was unlikely. It has also been found that fertilizers can reactivate glyphosate and cause damage to non-target plants. Most worryingly, residues of Glyphosate persist in our food. Not surprisingly, surveys to test for the amounts of pesticide absorbed by humans have shown widespread contamination. A 2011 study on Berlin residents, designed to test whether city-dwellers who were not in direct contact with pesticides were at risk of Glyphosate contamination found levels of the herbicide above the amounts permitted in drinking water in all the urine samples tested, and called for urgent action to change the practices of applying Glyphosate to food crops. A study conducted in 2013 on 182 urine samples collected from 18 European countries showed that 44% contained quantifiable levels of Glyphosate and 36% AMPA. The highest concentration of Glyphosate was in a sample from Latvia at 1.8 μg/L and the highest level of AMPA at 2.6 μg/L was in a Croatian sample. Rather than recognize the trend of ever-increasing amounts of poisons in our foods as the danger to health which it undoubtedly is, the American Environmental Protection Agency simply raised their values for what they term safe permitted levels. This flies in the face of all the evidence of the potential harm to human health associated with pesticides.

We have been warned

Many pesticide users have been lulled into a sense of false security by the claims advanced by pesticide manufacturers and their supporters. But the myths that pesticides can be benign and safe have long been challenged, for instance in a report by Andre Leu, Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia, published about ten years ago. FAO and WHO publish what they term are maximum residual levels of pesticides such as glyphosate in foodstuffs. To those who study the evidence objectively, the truth is that no level of pesticide is acceptable in human food, animal feed or the environment. The need for more stringent testing of all chemicals in common use was emphasized in a paperpublished in the Lancet Neurology in March 2014, in the light of increasing evidence that chemicals can be toxic to young children's nervous systems, and can cause neurodevelopmental disabilities including autism. Children are considered especially vulnerable to adverse effects from pesticides, which are specifically monitored by the EPA in the United States. But given the level of evidence that exists already, is it really necessary to make more animals suffer for the sake of trying to prove the contrary?

Indeed, there have been many warnings about the risks of pesticides over many years. The World Resources Institute is a global organization which has worked tirelessly since 1982 with the mission "to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations". Among its many peer-reviewed publications is a report from 1996 'Pesticides and the Immune System: The Public Health Risks'. The report states that enough is known about the effects of pesticides on the immune system to take preventive action, even though more needs to be known about the exact linkages. The executive summary states of the study: "Although some pesticides have been restricted or banned because they pose risks of cancer, birth defects, or neurological damage, little attention has so far been given to what may be their greatest risk: impairment of human and animal immune systems. According to this new report, there is considerable evidence that widely used pesticides may suppress immune responses to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and tumors, making people significantly more vulnerable to disease....The authors show that steps now underway to resolve this issue are far from adequate. If pesticides are undermining people's ability to withstand infectious and parasitic diseases -- still the world's main causes of death -- then pesticide policy must be profoundly altered. This report may be a path-breaking step in that direction."

Even the slightest element of doubt about pesticide safety should be cause enough to stop their use.

EU aiming to limit pesticide use

The EU has been more robust than FAO and WHO in addressing the problems of pesticide contamination and encouraging the growth of organic farming. Croatia's entry into the EU on July 1st 2013 brought with it many new restrictions and regulations. Among the more helpful, potentially, are the regulations governing the use of pesticides. The aims are "to reduce the risks and impacts attached to pesticide use on people's health and the envirnoment". One of the possible recommended actions is total ban: "EU countries minimise or ban the use of pesticides in critical areas for environmental and health reasons". This could well apply to Hvar.

Another action relates to training pesticide suppliers and users in responsible practices: "Professional pesticide users, distributors and advisors get proper training. EU countries establish competent authorities and certification systems". According to the EU 2009 Directive, EU Member States had to establish systems of initial and additional training for distributors, advisors and professional users of pesticides and certification systems by November 26th 2013. In accordance with EU regulations, Croatia has produced its National Action Plan relating to pesticides, including a new system of training distributors and professional users.

Non-professional pesticide users

The EU regulations may or may not help to introduce rationalization of pesticide use in industrial agriculture. The problem on Hvar, and probably elsewhere, is that many pesticide users are not professionals. Many have no understanding of the nature of the poisons they are handling and spreading around. And very many have never read the instructions, or, if they have, they've forgotten what the instructions said. These are the people who need educating, and apparently they are not covered under the legislation.

The most widely used herbicide on Hvar is Cidokor, the Croatian name for Roundup, whose active ingredient is Glyphosate. Recently Syngenta's Ouragan (Touchdown) has been heavily promoted on the island as an "eco-product", despite being based on Glyphosate, the same active ingredient as Cidokor / Roundup. Between January and March 2014, in contrast or defiance to the EU's policies aimed at limiting the use of pesticides, Glyphosate preparations have been sprayed liberally around fields and along some roadsides, including the Stari Grad Plain (the historic Ager or Hora) which is on UNESCO's cultural heritage list. The sprayers are blasé about their actions. Their reasoning goes something as follows: "It's the mildest poison there is"; "It doesn't go into the vines / olives / fruits / vegetables"; "it doesn't last in the soil", "I don't have time to control weeds any other way". Many admit to using more of the pesticide than stated in the instructions - just as the 1946 film proudly proclaimed that Pestroy contained more DDT than the government recommended at the time. The Roundup / Cidokor / Glyphosate over-users assume that greater quantity makes the poison more effective. In fact the opposite is true. Quoting Australian website www.roundup.com: "...be sure not to exceed the recommended dosage. The exact quantities are calculated so that glyphosate kills the weeds entirely in a certain time frame, this is because the chemicals must reach the roots before leaves are completely dead. Therefore, an excessive quantity of weed killer could prematurely kill the leaves, rendering the treatment useless." Protective clothing is also emphasized: "..all application of these chemicals should be carried out wearing rubber gloves, garden boots and long-sleeves." Similarly, the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers practical safety tips for pesticide users which include wearing protective clothing and changing clothes immediately after applying pesticides.

Why do people believe glyphosate-based herbicides are safe and innocuous except to weeds? Glyphosate in itself was thought to have low toxicity, but this is increasingly being shown to be untrue. Glyphosate forms about 48% of preparations like Cidokor / Roundup Classic. It is mixed with a surfactant, polyoxyethyleneamine, for application on plants, and the sufactant possibly increases glyphosate toxicity by several orders of magnitude. Recent studies indicate that Roundup is "toxic to human DNA at concentrations diluted 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications". The studies through which Roundup was allowed on the U.S. market were on Glyphosate alone, not on the full product. Unbelievable, but tragically true.

Is 'responsible use' the answer?

As the dangers of pesticides have become so obvious that they cannot be ignored entirely, pesticide proponents often refer to 'responsible use' as the answer to the problem. This entails following the isntructions to the letter, using only as much pesticide as is prescribed, repeating applications at the prescribed intervals and using protective clothing.

One of the issues of responsibility which never seems to be addressed is how to publicize appropriate warnings. People need to know when pesticide spraying is about to happen, when it is in the process of happening and when it has just happened. In most countries, cultivated fields are accessible to walkers, and they, as well as any dogs which might accompany them, should be protected against exposure.  

On Hvar the fields are mostly so small that one's neighbour's pesticides are inevitably a problem for anyone who wants to farm organically. The proximity, coupled with the fact that pesticides travel through air, soil and in underground water, make conventional and organic farming incompatible on the island. In practice, organic farming is impossible if neighbouring fields, even those some distance away, are doused in chemical poisons. 

Natural alternatives

Natural pesticides and methods to control unwanted insects, plants and rodents have been in use throughout human history. They are extremely relevant today. Apart from strimming, rotavating and ploughing, the traditional way of controlling unwanted plants in Hvar fields was to plant vegetables such as beans among the vines, cabbages under the almond trees. This is known technically as intercropping. You get useful healthy food crops without dangerous poisons, a double benefit. It was also commonplace to take out old vines and plant the fields with vegetables or other crops for a time, as a type of crop rotation. Encouraging the spread of clover under the olive trees created the double benefit of keeping unwanted plants out and fixing nitrogen in the soil, making arificial fertilization unnecessary. There are experiments in creating natural alternatives to chemical herbicides, and there are many organic products available for weed control. Unwanted insects can also be controlled by natural means, especially through good preventive practices including encouraging beneficial insects, and using nematodes.

It is possible to farm successfully organically. In many countries, efforts are being made to turn away from chemical pesticides in favour of more natural farming methods, even in large-scale agriculture, for instance in Vietnam  and Australia. Novel methods have been used in India to persuade farmers to go organic. In Croatia organic farming is not well developed, but it has been reported that vegetable growers in northeastern Croatia are showing increasing interest in abandoning conventional practices. Well, it's a start. More hearteningly, since 2013 some Croatian farmers have joined the WWOOF Independents Scheme which invites volunteers to come and work on organic farms in different countries around the world. Croatia does not yet have a national WWOOF group, by contrast with neighbouring Serbia, which joined in 2011 and Macedonia, which joined in 2007.

There are organic farmers on Hvar. One of them is Jakov Franičević (pictured above), owner of the highly prized restaurant Konoba Humac, who has battled for the acceptance of organic farming methods for the best part of thirty years. Jakov and his wife Keti have also worked tirelessly to preserve Hvar's cultural heritage, including its landscape, dry walls and old stone buildings. He has often been derided and criticized in the past for his 'green' beliefs and practices, but the tide is turning, and many of those who were previously sceptical are now going organic. If the whole island abandons chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers, the environment will be saved and better health ensured for future generations. If not.....

WHEN YOU POISON NATURE, YOU POISON YOURSELF AND ALL AROUND YOU

GO HVAR GO - ORGANIC!

© Vivian Grisogono 2014

 

You are here: Home environment articles Perilous Pesticides

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Government plan to educate owners and encourage fines not enough to effectively tackle air pollution

    Study links air pollution to mental ill-health

    Politicians and campaigners have called for an urgent review of wood-burning stoves, which cause large amounts of pollution in urban areas.

    The calls follow the admission by the environment secretary that the government had set weaker air pollution targets than it would like. The admission came as she announced a new environmental plan for England that held back from banning wood-burning stoves and settled instead for “educating” people on their use.

    Continue reading...

  • Co-author of paper says results have implications for anyone who has to think hard in polluted areas

    Chess experts make more mistakes when air pollution is high, a study has found.

    Experts used computer models to analyse the quality of games played and found that with a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the probability that chess players would make an error increased by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increased by 10.8%.

    Continue reading...

  • National Trust project shows family home of ‘nature’s engineers’ and how they have improved the environment for other wildlife

    They can be seen chugging around their watery domain like small furry tugboats, gnawing away at saplings or nuzzling up to each other. The sound of babbling water and birdsong provides a pleasing soundtrack.

    A new online tour was launched on Thursday of an enclosure on the Holnicote estate in Somerset that is home to a family of five beavers. In what is billed as the first of its kind, the tour allows viewers to navigate through the 2.7-acre Exmoor enclosure where two adult beavers and their three offspring live and work.

    Continue reading...

  • Retailer and green groups warn of ‘high environmental cost’ of fish aggregating devices to tuna stocks and other endangered marine life

    The EU is under pressure to significantly restrict its huge fleet of fishing vessels from using “fish aggregating devices” that make it easier to catch huge numbers of fish and contribute further to overfishing.

    A letter signed by Marks & Spencer and more than 100 environmental groups, including the International Pole and Line Foundation, warns EU officials that the devices (FADs) are one of the main contributors to overfishing of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean, because they catch high numbers of juveniles.

    Continue reading...

  • The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?

    On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine.

    The energy industry is transforming mounds of manure into a lucrative “carbon negative fuel” capable of powering everything from municipal buses to cargo trucks. To do so, it’s turning to dairy farms, which offer a reliable, long-term supply of the material. Pinnacle is just one of hundreds across the state that have recently sold the rights to their manure to energy producers.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers find long-term exposure to even relatively low levels raises risk of depression and anxiety

    Long-term exposure to even comparatively low levels of air pollution could cause depression and anxiety, according to a study exploring the links between air quality and mental ill-health.

    Tracking the incidence of depression and anxiety in almost 500,000 UK adults over 11 years, researchers found that those living in areas with higher pollution were more likely to suffer episodes, even when air quality was within official limits.

    Continue reading...

  • Government accepts Liberal Democrat amendment to UK infrastructure bank bill

    Taxpayer money may no longer be invested in water companies that fail to produce adequate plans to stop sewage discharges, after the government accepted a Liberal Democrat amendment.

    The change to the UK infrastructure bank bill means that once it becomes law, tax receipts will only be able to fund water companies if they produce a costed and timed plan for ending sewage spills into waterways.

    Continue reading...

  • Council election could have national implications if Greens snatch ward from Lib Dems

    The issues that have been raised on the doorstep during the campaign have tended to be local ones – from concerns over new housing developments to the state of the pavements and plans to increase fees paid by people who live on boats in the harbour.

    But a council byelection taking place at Bristol city council on Thursday may have national implications should the Green party manage to pinch the ward from the Lib Dems.

    Continue reading...

  • Study suggests tool could be used to reduce energy needs for heating and cooling office buildings

    Every year we shift our clocks forward in the spring, and backwards in the autumn. Originally daylight saving was introduced to save energy; reducing the number of hours that the lights had to be on in office buildings. But as climate changes, can daylight saving be used to reduce the energy demand for heating and cooling our office spaces?

    To answer this question researchers simulated the heating and cooling demands of office buildings for 15 different cities across the United States and analysed the impact that daylight saving could have until the year 2050 under different climate scenarios. Under current climate conditions daylight saving reduced cooling demand by up to 5.9%, but increased heating demand by 4.4%. As we head into a warmer future they found that daylight saving could reduce cooling demand by up to 5.4%, while increasing heating demand by 3.2%. In both cases daylight saving results in a net decrease in energy used.

    Continue reading...

  • Bossington, Somerset: Whether by human or nature’s hand, the riparian landscape here is being reshaped

    The January storms that boomed over Exmoor shed so much rain that the River Barle washed away a section of the ancient stone clapper bridge at Tarr Steps. And at Bossington Beach near Porlock, the combined forces of the usually mild Horner Water and River Aller blasted through the pebble bank, carving a deep, curving route roaring red-brown into the sea.

    It will be weeks until the huge rock slabs at Tarr Steps are recovered and replaced, but the breach at Bossington is already rapidly repairing itself as the tides re-sweep the shingle. Breaks such as this often occur because the beach is changing shape – it is being gradually thinned and lengthened by the sea’s swash and drift.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds