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Agrochemicals In The News

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  • HHRA Earns Highest Rating from Guidestar/Candid

    By Russell K. King, executive director I’m pleased to announce that the HHRA has earned the Candid Platinum Seal of Transparency for 2023 –an achievement earned by fewer than one percent of US-based nonprofits. The Candid Platinum Seal is the highest level of recognition offered by Candid (formerly known as GuideStar) and is awarded to organizations that meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability. It’s an achievement that’s doubly important for the HHRA. The Candid Platinum Seal demonstrates the HHRA’s commitment to transparency and accountability. Our board, staff, volunteers, and partners believe that by sharing our data, metrics, and strategic priorities with the public, we can build trust and confidence in our organization and our work. To earn the Candid Platinum Seal, non-profit organizations must meet a rigorous set of criteria, including providing complete and accurate information about their mission, programs, finances, and governance on the Candid website, and sharing strategic priorities and information about outcomes. So why is this doubly important for the HHRA?  It’s important for all nonprofit organizations seeking grants and donations because the Candid Platinum Seal is a globally recognized acknowledgement that can inspire a higher level of confidence in the organization among potential grantors and donors–thereby making them far more likely to give. For the HHRA, however, it’s also important because our mission is one that relies on our credibility.  For our work to make a difference in people’s lives, people have to trust our processes, our findings, and our recommendations. The Candid Platinum Seal will help tell the world that, indeed, the HHRA is to be trusted. The leadership of the HHRA has always put integrity of the science first, which sets the HHRA apart in en era awash in willful misinformation and pseudoscience. I’ve long been a fierce advocate for the integrity in science, science reporting, and health information, so I’m proud to carry the torch that’s been passed to me. The HHRA supports researchers willing to seek answers to controversial questions. Our alliance of doctors, researchers, policy experts, and communicators works to answer questions that the government and private sector are too often unable or unwilling to address.  Through it all, we adhere strictly to scientific and ethical best practices to keep our research above reproach. The Candid Platinum Seal is an echo of the values that form the heart of the HHRA.  Let’s wear it with pride as we move forward.

  • Russell King | Executive Director Greetings from the New Executive Director

    By Russell K. King, HHRA Executive Director But yield who will to their separation,My object in living is to uniteMy avocation and my vocationAs my two eyes make one in sight. Robert Frost’s sentiment rang in my ears as I considered adopting the HHRA’s mission as my own. Why, after more than 25 years as a nonprofit CEO, would I take on a challenge of this complexity? Typically, when evaluating a potential professional challenge, you compare the attributes and experiences needed with those you possess. If they align sufficiently, it’s a good omen. I’ve spent more than a decade leading nonprofit organization through transitions, including a foundation that funded scientific research and two associations of medical professionals. I’ve created two development programs and led four others. And I’ve shared my expertise in nonprofit governance and policy, communications, and servant leadership. This constellation of what HHRA needs and what I can offer suggested that this was the direction I should follow. But there was something more. That something echoed Frost’s lines above: The chance to unite that which I enjoy, that which is most meaningful to me, with my work, thus uniting “my avocation and my vocation.” The two principles that have driven both my personal and professional lives have been: 1) we best find our way via the rigors and integrity of the scientific method, and 2) we create the richest meanings for our lives when we strive to help others. The HHRA, using science to improve and protect human health, rings both those bells with vigor. So here I am, eager to help the HHRA build on its illustrious beginnings and move to its next stage of development and growth. I will, of course, need your help. I won’t be shy about asking for it; please don’t be shy about offering it. This mission will require our collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. It will present moments in which we must support, encourage, and inspire each other. Worthy missions always do. For me, it’s the worthiness that matters most. Again, as Frost noted, we do this because it’s the right thing to do: Only where love and need are one,And the work is play for mortal stakes,Is the deed ever really doneFor Heaven and the future’s sakes.

  • A man spraying pesticides California’s Bold Plan to Transform Pest Management Systems is Long on Ambition and Light on Details

    By: Chuck Benbrook, HHRA ED By: Mark Lipson, HHRA Director of Policy and Regulatory Engagement We welcomed the invitation from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation for members of the public to offer comments and guidance as the State begins to take concrete actions needed to achieve the goals set forth in the new report Sustainable Pest Management: A Roadmap for California. Reviewing the 94-page Roadmap report reminded us how many constituencies, forces, and factors are pushing and pulling farmers, pest managers, and government agencies in multiple directions that are rarely aligned. This Roadmap document describes a very different pest management future that will hopefully become the “de facto” way pests are managed on and off the farm by 2050. If successful by 2050, prevention-based biointensive Integrated Pest Management (bioIPM) will be the norm and there will be minimal if any use of high-risk “Priority Pesticides”. Some thirty-two years ago, DPR hired Chuck Benbrook to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of DPR’s programs and policies to assist in the integration of DPR into the newly-formed Cal-EPA. The resulting report, Challenge and Change: A Progressive Approach to Pesticide Regulation in California, came out in March of 1993. It provides dozens of recommendations intended to do many of the same things that the 2023 Roadmap report hopes to bring within reach. The fact that most pest management systems in California have become more, not less reliant on pesticides over the last 30 years suggests that DPR’s and CDFA’s efforts to achieve Roadmap goals are going to entail heavy lifting, mostly uphill. For this reason in HHRA’s comments, Mark and Chuck describe the nature and substantial scope of changes in laws and policy that will be required to track progress toward Roadmap goals and hopefully, someday, achieve them.

Widely used herbicide and free radicals, a toxic combo

Jan 19th, 2023
Agrochemicals In The News

Authors: Chuck Benbrook, Robin Mesnage, William Sawyer

Too much oxidative stress is bad biology that unites all humankind. It always has and always will.

Diagram of cellular death due to oxidative stress
Diagram of cellular death due to oxidative stress

Normal, essential cell functions trigger the release of what is called “reactive oxygen species” (ROS), aka “free radicals.” A buildup of reactive oxygen species causes damage to DNA, fats, and proteins. It triggers inflammation and can cause cell death.

Free radicals want and need a hookup to neutralize them. This is why our cells work hard every second we are alive to produce the antioxidants needed to stabilize free radicals and put an end to the DNA damage they can cause.

As these normal processes play out in our bodies, oxidative stress ebbs and flows. When it rises above healthy levels, it weakens cell walls, disrupts the functioning of the brain, impairs and taxes the immune system, triggers inflammation, heightens risk of ADHD, and promotes a long-list of chronic degenerative diseases and reproductive problems.

In short, it is what kills most people that make it through life largely unscathed by war, pestilence, scarcity, and accidents. It is why we age.

When we are young, our bodies produce most of the antioxidants we need to neutralize free radicals, keeping oxidative stress at levels the body can keep up with and neutralize.

As we grow older and when we are sick, our bodies produce fewer and fewer antioxidants and we become more dependent on steady doses of antioxidants in food.

Oxidative stress is a universal aspect of human biology that invariably erodes health. All efforts over the millennia and across societies, cultures, and diets to promote and sustain good health work to the degree they contain and neutralize oxidative stress.

All economic activity, technology, and life styles that contribute to oxidative stress pose a tax on human well-being. Unfortunately, thousands of chemicals do so, including the world’s most heavily used pesticide, glyphosate.

On January 11, 2023 a team of NIH and CDC scientists published an important paper entitled “Glyphosate Exposure and Urinary Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in the Agricultural Health Study “.

JNIC paper on oxidative stress in the Agricultural Health Study
JNIC paper on oxidative stress in the Agricultural Health Study

For the first time, solid data has shown that dermal exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides increases oxidative stress among more heavily exposed applicators.

The scientists selected ~1,600 pesticide applicators from the 57,000 enrolled in the NIH Agricultural Health Study. They collected urine samples from them and quantified levels of glyphosate and markers of oxidative stress in the urine.

The applicators with higher levels of glyphosate in their urine also had higher levels of known markers of oxidative stress.

This paper provides clear evidence linking elevated oxidative stress to dermal exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides. This finding is important because it confirms that GBHs can increase the risk of cancer by triggering added oxidative stress.

On January 16, 2023 we published another new paper entitled “Genotoxicity Assays Published since 2016 Shed New Light on the Oncogenic Potential of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides”.

The authors include HHRA Executive Director Chuck Benbrook, Robin Mesnage, an HHRA advisor, and William Sawyer, a toxicologist. All three have worked as expert witnesses and consultants to law firms representing individuals who applied Roundup many times over years and have sued Bayer/Monsanto.

Our new paper explains that 84 out of 92 genotoxicity assays published since 2016 have reported a linkage between exposure to glyphosate or a formulated GBH herbicide and a genotoxic response indicative of, or associated with damage to DNA.

Moreover, out of the 84 assays showing such a linkage, elevated oxidative stress is highlighted among the reasons why.

GBHs are far from alone in triggering oxidative stress, but still, reducing exposures as much as possible will surely help many people who rely on a GBH for weed control keep up with the free radicals within them.

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