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house Bill H.R. 897

Fighting Zika With Fewer Permits for Government-Approved Pesticides

Argument in favor

U.S. communities need every tool they can get to fight the Zika virus, without fear of burdensome paperwork and potential fines.

BTSundra's Opinion
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03/05/2016
The less permits and regulations the better.
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bhiguma's Opinion
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05/16/2016
We need to work to reduce government bureaucracy and allow people to make their own decisions. If we don't agree with something a farm is doing, we have every right to boycott that farm. Let the free market regulate itself.
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Ronald 's Opinion
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05/17/2016
The Senate and House should vote yes, but leave it up to the states to decide if they want
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Argument opposed

Environmental damage and public health risks caused by pesticides should be avoided at all costs and are worth redundant permits.

Lauren's Opinion
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05/17/2016
Pesticides are a massive environmental issue. Less regulation of these harmful chemicals will do more harm then good in the long run in terms of both public health and the environment (though it is difficult to totally separate the two).
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Jess's Opinion
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05/17/2016
Bypassing regulations laid down for the safety and health of the public to "protect" the public from a virus that I have no doubt the U.S. government had a hand in spreading is disgraceful. Abolishing necessary regulations now gives agencies and the government means to bypass for lesser reasons (or simply no reasons) down the road, further endangering the lives of the public for potentially nefarious means. Once this passes, it will be outrageously difficult to retract or amend once again. I wholeheartedly support the safety of the public, and creating such an open-ended amendment to bypass "paperwork" is certainly not the way to ensure anyone's safety or health. Vote No.
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Moni's Opinion
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05/19/2016
Poisoning people to protect from disease isn't the best way to deal with the crisis. Personal prevention and developing vaccines and drugs to deal with this crisis will be much more feasible to do than to try killing off mosquitos.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed May 24th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 258 Yea / 156 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Agriculture
      Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Water Resources and Environment
    IntroducedFebruary 11th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 897?

This bill would keep states and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring a permit for using pesticides that are already approved by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). These permits — issued through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program — are currently required through the Clean Water Act (CWA). 

More specifically, permits would not be necessary in cases where the discharge is regulated as a stormwater, municipal, or industrial discharge under the CWA

Impact

U.S. pesticide users and FIFRA permit enforcers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 897

$0.00
According to the CBO, this legislation would have minimal impact on the federal budget. Any administrative savings to the EPA from granting fewer permits would be negligible because states have the authority to grant National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) said of the inspiration for his bill: 

“[It] addresses the Sixth Circuit’s holding in National Cotton Council v. EPA and returns the pesticide regulations to the status quo, before the Court became involved. EPA has estimated that approximately 365,000 pesticide users, including state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, farmers, ranchers, forest managers, scientists, and even every day citizens, that perform some 5.6 million pesticide applications annually would be affected by the Court’s ruling. H.R. 897 will insure that duplicative and harmful regulations will not stand in the way of effectively protecting our nation’s agriculture production, natural resources, and public health.”

That was back when this bill was called the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. Now, with it's new name — the Zika Vector Control Act — the bill aims to focus pesticide use (and loosened regulations on discharges) in the fight against the growing threat of the Zika virus. 

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika a global public health emergency.

One of the scary parts of the virus is how little we know, including even the number of cases and degree to which it has spread. It has been linked to a few cases of a rare paralysis disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.  On February 2, 2016, experts were surprised by the first confirmed case of the virus spreading directly from person to person through sexual contact (instead of via mosquito) in Dallas, TX.

Media:

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Agência Brasília)

AKA

Zika Vector Control Act

Official Title

To amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes.

    The less permits and regulations the better.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Pesticides are a massive environmental issue. Less regulation of these harmful chemicals will do more harm then good in the long run in terms of both public health and the environment (though it is difficult to totally separate the two).
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    We need to work to reduce government bureaucracy and allow people to make their own decisions. If we don't agree with something a farm is doing, we have every right to boycott that farm. Let the free market regulate itself.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Bypassing regulations laid down for the safety and health of the public to "protect" the public from a virus that I have no doubt the U.S. government had a hand in spreading is disgraceful. Abolishing necessary regulations now gives agencies and the government means to bypass for lesser reasons (or simply no reasons) down the road, further endangering the lives of the public for potentially nefarious means. Once this passes, it will be outrageously difficult to retract or amend once again. I wholeheartedly support the safety of the public, and creating such an open-ended amendment to bypass "paperwork" is certainly not the way to ensure anyone's safety or health. Vote No.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    The Senate and House should vote yes, but leave it up to the states to decide if they want
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Poisoning people to protect from disease isn't the best way to deal with the crisis. Personal prevention and developing vaccines and drugs to deal with this crisis will be much more feasible to do than to try killing off mosquitos.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    We should not be loosening any restrictions on pesticides.They are a huge environmental problem. I agree with those who feel that profit is the reason manufacturers want to loosen regulations.
    Like (2)
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    Pesticides are negatively impacting our health and environment with current restrictions, no way should we loosen regulations! And glytosphate is classified as a probable carcinogen by the world health organization!
    Like (2)
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    #Zika Spraying Enriches Chemical Companies While Endangering Public Health • According to Florida Bulldog: "… Rick Scott has an undisclosed financial interest in a Zika mosquito control company in which his wife, Florida First Lady Ann Scott, owns a multi-million dollar stake through a private investment firm she co-owns. The company is Mosquito Control Services LLC of Metairie, LA. • Interestingly enough, the American Mosquito Control Association has lobbied Congress to pass HR 935, which would exempt mosquito control operations from the NPDES permit requirement altogether, allowing them to discharge whatever chemical without limits, monitoring or reporting requirements. • When Congress remained unreceptive to the idea, HR 935 was suddenly renamed the "Zika Control Act." Once Congress comes back from recess, they could potentially be forced to vote yes on this disastrous bill if there's sufficient panic about Zika. • The primary chemical weapons against Zika — Naled and Malathion — are both up for re-evaluation at the EPA under a special provision of the Endangered Species Act. If found to harm endangered species, they will be banned — unless there's sufficient political pressure to keep them on the market, that is. By Dr. Mercola As you may recall, the Zika virus made big headlines back in January and February when the Brazilian government blamed Zika-carrying mosquitoes for an uptick in reports of microcephaly,1, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. Like many other nations, the U.S. overreacted to the news by increasing states' mosquito eradication efforts.Some early models estimated that 200 million Americans, about 60 percent of the U.S. population, would become infected with Zika this summer — estimates that were clearly vastly overblown. Sounds just like President Bush who 11 years ago claimed that over 200 million would not only get infected with Bird Flu but would actually die from it. They must have figured most people forgot about this and it was time for another scare to sell more chemicals and vaccines. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/10/25/rumsfeld-to-profit-from-avian-flu-hoax.aspx Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#CDC) statistics reveal we've come nowhere near such numbers. The two states with the highest rates of laboratory-confirmed Zika infections, New York and Florida, have had 625 and 507 cases respectively so far. New York accounts for 23 percent of all U.S. cases; Florida accounts for 19 percent of the total. It's worth noting though that the vast majority of all Zika cases in the U.S. occurred during travel elsewhere. Florida alone had 35 cases of locally acquired infections. All other states report zero locally-acquired cases. Among the U.S. territories, Puerto Rico was worst beset, with 13,791 locally-acquired cases as of August 31, 2016. The U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa report 221 and 47 locally-acquired cases respectively. Call for #DDT Has (Fortunately) Been Left Unanswered As the Zika scare grew to a fever pitch, groups like the Manhattan Institute and various journalists for prominent media outlets started calling for the return of DDT to address the mosquito problem. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/29/pesticide-exposure.aspx For example, in a June 6 article, The New York Post wrote: "The Zika virus outbreak makes it clearer than ever: It's time to end the ban on DDT — a ban that was never sensible in the first place, but now is downright unjustifiable." Never mind the fact that DDT passes freely through the placenta during pregnancy, where it gains direct access to the developing fetus and its brain. DDT has also been linked to decreased fertility, premature delivery, Alzheimer's and even microcephaly, making this recommendation about as ignorant as it gets. Fortunately, the ban on DDT has not been lifted. However, there's no shortage of other dangerous insecticides on the market, and they've been heavily employed in many states. Florida and New York Being Heavily Sprayed VIDEO: Zika Spray Protest in Wynwood, Miami https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPHmzZMIINs In Miami-Dade County, Florida, the aerial spraying campaign against Zika-carrying mosquitoes has been referred to as a "blitz" that "could be one for the record books if the [CDC] records it as a success." The area began spraying the insecticide #Naled from low-flying planes on August 4. Naled is banned in the European Union (EU), and when residents in Puerto Rico found out the CDC was going to use the chemical against Zika-carrying mosquitoes there, the streets filled with protesters. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla finally forced the CDC to take the shipments back. Concerned residents took to the streets in Wynwood, Miami, as well, but it didn't have much of an impact. Neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, were doused with #Duet and #Anvil insecticides from trucks on the nights of August 31 and September 1, 2016, to combat mosquitoes known to carry either the Zika or West Nile virus (Asian Tiger, Aedes Aegypti and Culex mosquitoes).16, Duet has also been used in Orange County, California. Duet contains two pyrethroid pesticides, #Sumithrin and #Prallethrin, plus a synergistic compound called piperonyl butoxide (#PBO), which boosts the effectiveness of the former two. Sumethrin is an #endocrinedisruptor, #neurotoxin and likely #carcinogen, and PBO has been shown to be harmful to the fetal brain, causing "profound developmental defects in children exposed in utero." According to recent research, children living in areas exposed to annual aerial spraying of #pyrethroids (such as Duet and Anvil) have a 25 percent higher risk of #autism compared to areas where mosquito control is done primarily through pellets distributed on the ground. This suggests the method of application can make a big difference when it comes to human health.20, In another study, exposure to pyrethroids during the third trimester increased the chances of the child having autism by 87 percent. Low-flying helicopters also released pellets of #Altosid and #VectoBac over four New York City boroughs earlier this summer, including Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx. As noted by The Vaccine Reaction: "What might be of particular concern to the New York City's residents is the ironic possibility that using these chemicals against mosquitoes to control the perceived threat of the Zika virus could actually have the effect of creating a serious local health crisis where there was previously none. While the CDC seems convinced that Zika is behind the microcephaly cases in Brazil … other organizations such as Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados (Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Villages) of Argentina … has argued that an insect growth regulator similar to Altosid may be responsible for the microcephaly cases." Aerial Spraying Is Not an Effective Strategy for Controlling Zika Many have also argued that aerial sprayings against the Zika-carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti is futile, exposing the population to toxic chemicals for no good reason. These tiny black and white striped mosquitoes have a very limited range of flight, and since it's so difficult to catch them airborne, insecticidal sprays and foggers are mostly useless for controlling them.Reporting on recent research, WebMD writes: "Female mosquitoes can transmit the Zika virus to their eggs and offspring, and this may make it harder to contain outbreaks, a new lab study suggests. Control programs that focus only on adult mosquitoes may not halt Zika's spread, the researchers warned … 'Spraying affects adults, but it does not usually kill the immature forms — the eggs and larvae,' said [study co-author Dr. Robert] Tesh. As a result, 'spraying will reduce transmission, but it may not eliminate the virus' …" CDC Relies on Unpublished Data to Support Aerial Spraying Curiously, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden defended the use of aerial insecticide sprayings in a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (#JAMA) citing a non-peer-reviewed presentation by a New Orleans mosquito control board employee named Brendan Carter. According to Carter, aerial disbursement of "ultra-low volumes of insecticide" reduced caged Aedes aegypti by more than 90 percent in a New Orleans field trial. However, as reported by Kaiser Health News: "Carter earned his master's degree in 2014 from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine … Even so, other experts in mosquito-borne diseases were unconvinced when asked about Carter's finding as described in Frieden's commentary for JAMA. 'I know of no published reports that support this figure,' said Durland Fish, [Ph.D.] a Yale University professor emeritus of microbial diseases as well as a professor of forestry and environmental studies there. Fish worked with public officials in Dominica in 2014 to counter chikungunya virus, another disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. 'This is a domestic mosquito, meaning they live inside the house — in closets, under the bed, in the sink. Spraying outside won't be very effective,' he said." Micro-Mist May Work by Entering Your Home, but Is That Wise? Many others agree with Fish's conclusion, noting there's virtually no scientific evidence to support the use of aerial spraying to control Aedes mosquitoes. However, Joseph Conlon, spokesman for the American Mosquito Control Association, is not on that list. According to Conlon, the idea that aerial spraying against Aedes mosquitoes doesn't work is an outdated notion, since Naled can now be sprayed in a micro-fine mist, "capable of wafting into homes through screen doors and bathroom vents." But what about the residents, including infants and pregnant women, inside those homes who then breathe in this super-fine mist? Naled, an #organophospate insecticide is known to interfere with #cholinesteraseactivity, an enzyme essential for the proper working of your #nervoussystem. Organophosphates as a group are also linked with shortened pregnancies, lowered IQ and increased risk of attention deficit disorder (#ADD). http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/08/10/chemical-pesticide-poisoning.aspx According to the Extension Toxicology Network, "Naled is moderately to highly #toxic by ingestion, inhalation and dermal adsorption. Vapors or fumes of Naled are #corrosive to the #mucousmembranes lining the mouth, throat and lungs, and inhalation may cause severe irritation." It is also readily absorbed through your skin and should be immediately washed off if contact occurs. High temperatures and/or UV light enhances its toxicity — an added concern when sprayed in hot and sunny areas like Florida. I live in Florida full-time now and this is a significant issue for me personally. This is one of the reasons why I use my infrared sauna three times a week to help me #detox not only from these admitted exposures but also from all the other ones that we have no idea of but nevertheless have exposure to. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/24/sauna-benefits.aspx Naled Decimates Bee Populations in South Carolina Naled was also sprayed in Dorchester County, South Carolina, in the morning hours between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on August 28, 2016 — with devastating consequences. In one Summerville apiary, 46 hives totaling 2.5 million #bees died that same morning. Many other #beekeepers also claim massive losses. As reported by The Washington Post: "[T]o the bee farmers, the reason is already clear. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester's own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes … Given the current concerns of West Nile virus and Zika … Dorchester decided to try something different … It marked a departure from Dorchester County's usual ground-based efforts. For the first time, an airplane dispensed Naled in a fine mist, raining insect death from above …" Naled is known to be highly toxic to bees, which is why counties that use it will typically spray it at night, when honey bees are not out foraging. Provided they have sufficient warning, beekeepers can also shield their hives to prevent exposure. According to Dorchester County administrator Jason Ward, all but one beekeeper on the county's contact list was notified of the spraying. However, many local beekeepers were not on the county's list to begin with, and the county only requested a more complete list from the Lowcountry Beekeepers Association after the fact. In a WCSC-TV interview, local beekeeper Juanita Stanley said: "Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do, screaming, 'No you can't do this.'" Florida Governor Has Financial Stake in Zika Mosquito Control Considering the limited risks of Zika and the significant risks of aerial insecticides on critical pollinators like bees and human health, one wonders what's really driving the decision process. When you start to dig, you'll often find financial incentives. In Florida, people are now wondering whether Governor #RickScott may have a personal stake in unleashing #chemicalwarfare. On June 23, 2016, Scott allocated $26.2 million in state emergency funds to combat Zika. As it turns out, an undisclosed conflict of interest could potentially have influenced this generous release of funds. According to Florida Bulldog: "… Rick Scott has an undisclosed financial interest in a Zika mosquito control company in which his wife, Florida First Lady Ann Scott, owns a multi-million dollar stake through a private investment firm she co-owns. The company is Mosquito Control Services LLC of Metairie, LA. According to its website, MCS 'is a fully-certified team of mosquito control experts — licensed throughout the Gulf Coast, including Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida' … It is not known whether MCS, whose services include monitoring and aerial spraying, stands to benefit from Florida government funds … MCS did not respond to two requests for comment." Is Zika Being Hyped to Save Toxic Insecticides From Being Banned? In a recent Health Nut News article, Erin Elizabeth pieces together a long list of events and players suggesting the real reason for the Zika hype may be related to the fact that the primary chemical weapons against Zika — Naled and Malathion — are both up for re-evaluation at the EPA under a special provision of the Endangered Species Act. If found to harm endangered species, they will be banned — unless there's sufficient political pressure to keep them on the market, that is. Moreover, the #CleanWaterAct stipulates you must have a #NPDES permit in order to be "allowed" to discharge pollutants into U.S. waters. Insecticides are a significant water pollutant, and mosquito control applications that result in water discharges must have an NPDES permit, which includes limits on the discharges and has certain monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure the chemical does not hurt water quality and human health. Should Naled and/or Malathion be found harmful to endangered species, operators would not likely be able to get an NPDES permit for the chemicals even if they somehow were not outright banned under the Endangered Species Act. Interestingly enough, the American Mosquito Control Association has lobbied Congress to pass HR 935, which would exempt mosquito control operations from the NPDES permit requirement altogether, allowing them to discharge whatever chemical without limits, monitoring or reporting requirements. When Congress remained unreceptive to the idea, HR 935 was suddenly renamed the "Zika Control Act." Once Congress comes back from recess, they could potentially be forced to vote yes on this disastrous bill if there's sufficient panic about Zika. The Senate is also scheduled to vote on whether to set aside another $1.1 BILLION in funding to fight Zika — a virus that so far has not seriously harmed a single person in the U.S., and has not conclusively been proven responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil either. In short, this whole thing appears to be little more than a gift to the chemical industry at the expense of public health. As noted by Erin: "The American Mosquito Control Association and the chemical companies can only benefit from huge hype and fear surrounding Zika. They NEED the populace to fear Zika so that Congress is forced to approve a terrible bill that would pollute/erode the Clean Water Act and eventually allow for Malathion and Naled [to] continue to be used despite data showing their effect on endangered species." Some States Now Offer Free Mosquito Repellents In related news, in addition to boosting mosquito sprayings across entire neighborhoods, some states have decided to hand out free mosquito repellents. Universal Studios, Walt Disney World and SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, now offer free bug repellents to visitors and, in Texas, pregnant women on Medicaid are eligible to receive free DEET mosquito repellent at pharmacies without a prescription. However, DEET is by no means harmless. On the contrary, DEET has been shown to harm brain and nervous system function and is so poisonous that even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face. Why focus on distributing a highly toxic chemical to pregnant women rather than giving them something that's actually safe? http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/25/natural-insect-repellents.aspx Neem-based products, for example, are a viable alternative that can keep mosquitos at bay without risking your and your baby's health. Citronella oil and geraniol can also be used, and both are safe for the whole family, including infants. Products containing either 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon and eucalyptus have also been shown to outperform DEET in tests. http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lemon-oil.aspx Picaridin resembles the natural compound piperine, an essential oil in black pepper. Lemon eucalyptus oil and picaridin are not actual repellents; they primarily work by masking the environmental cues that mosquitoes use to locate their target. Side effects of both picaridin and lemon eucalyptus include potential skin or eye irritation, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states picaridin should not be used on children under age 3. Still, they're both likely FAR safer than DEET! Biological Warfare Is a Risky Game Are we doing the right thing by waging war against pests with toxic chemicals? It needs to be understood that there's a price to pay, both in human and environmental health. We're poisoning our world, and ourselves, in the name of protecting public health. There's something inherently wrong with that position. Some are quick to say we have no other options. But this isn't necessarily true. In the short term, there are safer options to guard against mosquitos than aerial insecticides and topical DEET. But we also need to take a much wider view. What's needed is the political and societal will to make necessary changes, and this involves fully embracing ecologically sound, regenerative methods of agriculture. Why? Because when nature is in balance, pests fail to gain the upper hand. They still exist, but they're kept in check naturally. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/14/regenerative-agriculture.aspx It may not be as effective as releasing a potent toxin, but if we keep going the way we're headed, we're just going to encounter more of the same problems. Is it really worth putting our children's health and future at risk? Is it worth decimating pollinators, on which our food supply depends? I believe the answer is no, but at the very least, we need a more open discussion about what we're doing and what the options are. We also need to implement more farsighted solutions. Again, this is all based on the likely flawed assumption that what the media, CDC and public health authorities are saying about Zika is true. In my view, this is merely a repeat of the Bird Flu Hoax, which is a New York Times best-selling book I previously wrote. They just fast-forwarded the clock a decade and hoped they could use the fear-based tactics to push their pernicious agenda yet again. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/09/14/zika-virus-aerial-spraying.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20160914Z1&et_cid=DM116541&et_rid=1664825488 Experts Admit #Zika Threat Fraud • Mosquito experts are questioning the extent of emergency that actually exists. Chris Barker, Ph.D. a mosquito-borne virus researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: "I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero.” • Environmental red flags have been raised over Biotech company Oxitec's GE mosquitos. The potential exists for these foreign genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating "insertion mutations" and other unpredictable types of DNA damage. It’s important to remember, too, that Oxitec wants emergency approval based on the supposed threat of a disease that has yet to have even one locally transmitted case. • A Clean Water Act permit is generally required to spray pesticides in areas where they might end up in water. The permit is intended to keep the toxic chemicals from contaminating water, but now the Zika virus has been used as an excuse to do away with this common-sense precaution. Children exposed to aerial pesticide spraying are about 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism or have a documented developmental delay than those living in areas that use other methods of pesticide application (such as manual spreading of granules). • It's possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes could be involved in suspected cases of microcephaly, but there are other factors that should be considered as well. For starters, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides. Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area. Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly. • Some experts recommend supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Regularly consuming garlic may also help protect against mosquito bites, as may the following natural insect repellants: Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET) Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market. Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET) is. By Dr. Mercola We’re in the midst of prime mosquito season for much of the U.S. While the exact beginning and end of mosquito season are debatable, The Washington Post recently used Google search data to pinpoint the shape of mosquito season in the U.S. Presumably, Google searchers for mosquitoes increase as mosquitoes ramp up their activity in any given area. Using this premise, The Washington Post found that mosquito searchers shoot up in May and increase steadily through July, then drop off throughout the coming fall and winter months. In the U.S., mosquito season is viewed as more of an itchy nuisance than a health threat, but that has changed somewhat this year, at least perceptually. Fears of Zika virus, which some believe may be associated with suspected cases of the birth defect microcephaly, started in Brazil and have quickly spread throughout the U.S. But are such fears warranted? Experts Admit Zika Threat Risk ‘Near Zero’ The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $622 million to fight Zika virus. Yet, by White House estimates, this is "woefully inadequate." They've recommended directing $1.9 billion to fight this latest declared public health emergency But mosquito experts are questioning the extent of emergency that actually exists. Chris Barker, Ph.D. a mosquito-borne virus researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: "I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero.” Barker expects Zika to go the way of other tropical diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever and chikungunya, in the U.S. with perhaps small clusters of outbreaks in southern states and little activity elsewhere. Even in the Florida Keys (Florida, along with Louisiana and Texas, is said to be one of the states most at risk of mosquito-borne illnesses), the Monroe County Tourist Development Council reported: “Dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika viruses are currently not a health threat in the Florida Keys including Key West … There has never been a report of a locally acquired case of chikungunya or Zika anywhere in the Florida Keys, according to officials at the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County.” No Locally Transmitted Cases of Zika Virus Reported in U.S. As of May 25, 2016, Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes anywhere in the continental U.S. Calls to control the Aedes mosquitoes, which may carry Zika, have increased nonetheless, including in New York state, where experts say the risk of local transmission is low. Laura Harrington, Ph.D., chair of Entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York told WebMD: "Here in New York state, there's been a lot of pressure placed on mosquito-control districts to do as much as they can. And, they're really strapped for resources, and there's not a huge risk of transmission … ” Maps released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#CDC) show it’s possible for Aedes mosquitoes to travel as far north as New York, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri and California. According to Harrington, the maps are inaccurate and causing unnecessary hysteria. Harrington continued: "They're showing this mosquito in places where there's no way you're going to find them … It's really unfortunate, because it's causing a lot of hysteria in places where people should be focusing on other health issues, like Lyme disease." GE Mosquitoes to Fight Zika Virus? Biotech company Oxitec has created genetically engineered (#GE) mosquitoes that carry a “genetic kill switch.” When they mate with wild female mosquitoes, their offspring inherit the lethal gene and cannot survive. To achieve this feat, #Oxitec has inserted protein fragments from the herpes virus, E. coli bacteria, coral and cabbage into the insects. The GE mosquitoes have proven lethal to native mosquito populations. In the Cayman Islands, for instance, 96 percent of native mosquitoes were suppressed after more than 3 million GE mosquitoes were released in the area, with similar results reported in Brazil. Oxitec is seeking to release the GE mosquitoes in the U.S. to fight Zika, but as pointed out by Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to USA Today, the GE mosquitoes have not been shown to reduce rates of diseases such as Zika. The GE mosquitoes may also prove to be too expensive for areas that are plagued with mosquito-borne diseases. Environmental red flags have also been raised. The potential exists for these foreign genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating "insertion mutations" and other unpredictable types of DNA damage. And according to Todd Shelly, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, 3.5 percent of the GE insects in a laboratory test survived to adulthood despite presumably carrying the lethal gene. It’s important to remember, too, that Oxitec wants emergency approval based on the supposed threat of a disease that has yet to have even one locally transmitted case. Biotech Company Calls for ‘Emergency Approval’ of Controversial GE Mosquitoes The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (#FDA) has agreed with an environmental assessment submitted by Oxitec and stated that GE mosquitoes will not have a significant impact on the environment. Technically, this is referred to as a “finding of no significant impact” (#FONSI). The FDA’s report is only preliminary, but Oxitec wants the FDA to throw caution to the wind and give the GE mosquitoes emergency approval in order to fight the Zika virus. If approved, Oxitec, in partnership with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (#FKMCD), plans to release the GE mosquitoes, which go by the name of OX513A, in Key Haven, Florida, an island of the Florida Keys located about 1 mile east of Key West. More than 270,000 people have submitted comments criticizing the FDA’s environmental assessment, and numerous environmental groups are calling for the agency to conduct a more thorough review of the GE mosquitoes’ risks. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said: “The FDA really missed the mark on this one … The agency seems so eager to speed the process along that they have failed to do a real review of the potential risks, and are ignoring widespread concern in the community where the release will happen.” No Permits Required to Spray Near Water A Clean Water Act permit is generally required to spray pesticides in areas where they might end up in water. The permit is intended to keep the toxic chemicals from contaminating water, but now the Zika virus has been used as an excuse to do away with this common-sense precaution. The language was inserted into the Zika Vector Control Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives. It would exempt pesticide applicators from needing a Clean Water Act permit, even when spraying near water. Critics argued the bill would do little to help fight Zika virus, since mosquito-control agencies already have authority to apply pesticides in emergency situations to prevent the spread of infectious disease without applying for permits. Opponents say the bill has nothing to do with combatting Zika and, instead has been on the table for years, with the majority pushing for its passage “under whatever name” was convenient at the time. Aerial Mosquito Spraying Linked to Increased Risk of #Autism Greed is pushing for a number of potentially dangerous “solutions” to combat mosquitoes and related diseases. By removing requirements for permits when spraying pesticides near water, it’s likely the use of these chemicals will skyrocket, including via aerial spraying. Unfortunately, many may suffer as a result. In research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting, aerial #pesticide exposure was linked to an increased risk of developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder among children.The study compared children living in zip codes where aerial pesticide spraying was used each summer to combat mosquitoes that carry the eastern equine encephalitis virus, with children living in non-aerial-spraying zip codes. If authorities use the supposed threat of Zika to increase aerial spraying, it could increase children’s risk of brain disorders, which is the opposite of what anti-Zika campaigns are supposed to achieve. Are There Other Potential Explanations for an Increase in Microcephaly? It's possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes could be involved in suspected cases of microcephaly, but there are other factors that should be considered as well. For starters, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides. Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area. Environmental pollution and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. For instance: Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly The CDC lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as known risk factors The CDC also notes certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and others are risk factors Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes Many experts agree that the threat of an epidemic outbreak of Zika virus on continental U.S. soil is virtually nonexistent. So you needn’t go dousing your backyard in chemicals in an attempt to stay safe from the Zika virus (whose connection to birth defects is still being explored). If however, mosquitoes are bothersome for you, there are some steps you can take to encourage them to live elsewhere. Draining standing water, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths, children’s toys and so on, is important. This is where mosquitoes breed, so if you eliminate standing water you’ll eliminate many mosquitoes. Planting marigolds around your yard also works as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes without using chemical insecticides. A simple house fan could also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you’re having a get-together in your backyard or, for a longer-term solution, try installing a bat house (bats are voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes). It’s best to avoid using bug zappers in your yard, as these may actually attract more mosquitoes while killing beneficial insects. Insect foggers designed to clear insects out of your backyard should also be avoided, as they require the use of strong, potentially harmful, pesticides and don’t offer lasting protection. Even those clip-on repellents and fans that are widely sold are best avoided, as they contain even more toxic ingredients than repellents that can be applied to your skin, and they pose an inhalation hazard. Some experts also recommend supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Regularly consuming garlic may also help protect against mosquito bites, as may the following natural insect repellants: Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET) Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET) is http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/07/zika-virus-threat.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art2&utm_campaign=20160607Z1&et_cid=DM109756&et_rid=1519187568
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    This is not a simple issue and while the zika virus is a concern, the risk in the minds of many Americans is over blown. I do not see a need to circumvent the existing standards/ safeguards in place.
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    Pesticides will cause more birth defects than the zinka virus.
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    This is dangerous and will have little effect given the history of mosquito response to pesticides.
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    Plenty of pesticides and other chemicals already exist. New ones should be thoroughly tested for safety. Remember the results of too little testing of the drugs thalidomide and diethylstilbestrol and of DDT? You who are too young to remember need to research these three chemicals. Any new chemicals released for any purpose should be deemed safe for human exposure before sales. Compare this bill with House Bill H.R. 3832. This one calls for fewer restrictions on chemicals released into the environment; H.R. 3832 calls for more restrictions. Illogical?
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    Iridium properly approved passes pesticides are destroying the bee population, and eliminating the very echo system we depend upon for survival. By all means let's not accelerate that process!
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    Regulation protects big business, not the consumer.
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    No no God no. You can't kill everyone and say you defeated zika, and you can't say you killed zika all while causing way more illness and birthdefect by using chemicals that are just as bad. There is a reason those chemicals are not used now-a-days. And that isn't even considering if it can seep into the drinking water and what have known it will cause in people and all the animals. Do you like fluffy having hair, or being alive? What about your children ?
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    Banning DDT has already cost 100's of millions of live. Now is the time to quite the insanity and use the tools we have to protect children.
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    we have to do everything we can that will preserve the health of our people. who gives a damn about paperwork? if the public's health is threatened then shouldn't we have all hands on deck to try and remedy the issue?
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    Preventing environmental and public health risks should be a priority, and continuing the permit process is necessary to ensure these checks stay in place.
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    Critical Mass issue. Media support to alert communities to exposure risk.
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