Goto

Collaborating Authors

Hawaii residents renew push for stricter pesticide rules

PBS NewsHour

Hawaii residents plan to push for more regulations over pesticide use. HONOLULU -- Hawaii residents concerned about pesticide use by major agriculture companies on the islands are planning a push to strengthen regulation over chemicals they fear harm their health. The divisive issue has drawn thousands to the Legislature in recent years following incidents where schoolchildren and agriculture workers fell ill and some suspected their sickness was connected to pesticides sprayed by seed testing companies. Several major agriculture companies test genetically engineered crops on the islands, taking advantage of Hawaii's year-round warm weather to develop new types of corn and soybeans and testing more generations of crops than they could in other states. A recent study found there wasn't enough evidence to show the pesticides used by Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and BASF Plant Science on Kauai caused adverse health or environmental effects on the community.


'Post-chemical world' takes shape as agribusiness goes green

The Japan Times

CHICAGO – Agribusiness is increasingly turning to natural and sustainable alternatives to chemicals as consumers rebuff genetically modified foods and concerns grow over Big Ag's role in climate change. At the heart of the trend are innovations that harness beneficial microorganizms in the soil, including seed-coatings of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi that can do the same work as traditional chemicals, from warding off pests to helping plants flourish, according to a global patent study by research firm GreyB Services. Much of the research in crop biotech is centered in the United States, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea, according to the U.N. agency WIPO. "Both entrepreneurs and investors are saying, 'Hey, the writing is on the wall, we're entering a post-chemical world,'" said Rob LeClerc, chief executive officer of AgFunder, an online venture-capital platform. "The seed companies who have billions in market cap are like'We need to do something,' and everyone recognizes the opportunity."


The robot killer than can take out weeds with a single jet blast of chemical

Daily Mail - Science & tech

In a field of sugar beet in Switzerland, a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels scans the rows of crops with its camera, identifies weeds and zaps them with jets of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles. Undergoing final tests before the liquid is replaced with weedkiller, the Swiss robot is one of new breed of AI weeders that investors say could disrupt the $100billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified (GM) crops that tolerate them. Dominated by companies such as Bayer, DowDuPont, BASF and Syngenta, the industry is bracing for the impact of digital agricultural technology and some firms are already adapting their business models. Herbicide sales are worth $26billion a year and account for 46 percent of pesticides revenue overall while 90 percent of GM seeds have some herbicide tolerance built in, according to market researcher Phillips McDougall. 'Some of the profit pools that are now in the hands of the big agrochemical companies will shift, partly to the farmer and partly to the equipment manufacturers,' said Cedric Lecamp, who runs the $1billion Pictet-Nutrition fund that invests in companies along the food supply chain.


6 Ways Trump's Administration Could Literally Make America More Toxic

Mother Jones

In late March, chlorpyrifos, a pesticide commonly used to ward off insects on fruit and vegetable crops, was nearing the end of a decade-long review process. There's strong evidence suggesting that the insecticide inhibits kids' brain development, and at least 80,000 scientists, environmentalists, and members of the public had signed a petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the stuff outright. But in the final stages of review, EPA director Scott Pruitt greenlighted the chemical instead, arguing there was insufficient evidence to ban it. Now farmers can continue to apply it to crops like corn, strawberries, almonds, and tomatoes. This year, more controversial pesticides are due for agency review, a process that weighs the latest scientific findings with public comment to determine whether the substance can continue to be used--though the White House has the final say.


Insight: Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants

#artificialintelligence

YVERDON-LES-BAINS, Switzerland/CHICAGO: In a field of sugar beet in Switzerland, a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels scans the rows of crops with its camera, identifies weeds and zaps them with jets of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles. Undergoing final tests before the liquid is replaced with weedkiller, the Swiss robot is one of new breed of AI weeders that investors say could disrupt the US$100 billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified (GM) crops that tolerate them. Dominated by companies such as Bayer, DowDuPont, BASF and Syngenta, the industry is bracing for the impact of digital agricultural technology and some firms are already adapting their business models. Herbicide sales are worth US$26 billion a year and account for 46 percent of pesticides revenue overall while 90 percent of GM seeds have some herbicide tolerance built in, according to market researcher Phillips McDougall. "Some of the profit pools that are now in the hands of the big agrochemical companies will shift, partly to the farmer and partly to the equipment manufacturers," said Cedric Lecamp, who runs the US$1 billion Pictet-Nutrition fund that invests in companies along the food supply chain.