USDA will try again on update of biotechnology regulations

For the third time in a decade, the USDA is starting anew on modernizing its regulation of biotech plants. As part of the effort, the agency ditched a proposal that would have covered genome-editing techniques if the products created posed a plant pest or noxious weed risk.

Monsanto halts sale of new pesticide after skin complaints

After users complained of skin irritation, including rashes, Monsanto is delaying until further notice the launch of NemaStrike — a new farm chemical used to kill worms on corn, soybeans and cotton. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did extensive evaluations of the product before approving it for use, according to Monsanto, which has described NemaStrike as ‘blockbuster technology,’” reports Reuters. Monsanto argues that some of its field testers may have been using the spray incorrectly or not wearing the proper protection.

Pruitt says EPA will no longer settle with green groups behind doors

EPA chief Scott Pruitt says the agency will no longer settle lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, arguing that the Obama administration regularly excluded industry and state governments from those conversations while pandering to green activists.

Massachusetts bakery gets no love from FDA

In a letter released Tuesday, the FDA instructed the Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord, Mass., that it needed to remove "love" from the list of ingredients for its granola, Bloomberg reports. “Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love,’” the agency wrote in the letter, which was dated Sept. 22. “‘Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.”

Monsanto no longer allowed at European parliament

Monsanto has been banned from attending European parliament proceedings after the corporation refused to appear for a parliamentary hearing, slated for October 11, to investigate regulatory interference. Monsanto is accused of influencing studies on the safety of the glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the company’s weedkiller Roundup.

Zinke says 30 percent of Interior workers aren’t loyal to Trump

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he took over the 70,000-person department certain that “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” meaning President Trump and his agenda, reported the Associated Press. Zinke said he’s pursuing a major reorganization that would move much of the department’s decision making outside of Washington in an effort to break up entrenched attitudes.

Head of USDA’s National Organic Program steps down

Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator for the National Organic Program at the USDA, said he was stepping down Sept. 30 after eight years in the position, and moving back to his home state of Washington while he considers new opportunities.

California farmer to pay million-dollar fine in wetlands case

John Duarte, a Northern California farmer, has agreed to pay a $1.1 million penalty to settle a years-long case that started in 2012, after he bought and tilled fallow land within a federally protected wetland.

Pruitt’s EPA accused of secret phone calls and armed guards

As he works to reverse many of the environmental regulations set under the Obama administration, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has dialed up both security and secrecy at the agency.

Six states join in pesticide lawsuit against EPA

Six state prosecutors from New York, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are joining environmental and social advocacy groups in a lawsuit to push the EPA to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. "It is EPA's responsibility to protect Americans from unsafe chlorpyrifos residues on food because of the potential neuro-developmental and other adverse health effects caused by exposure," the prosecutors said in their filing, according to Reuters.