By Jessica Corbett
A coalition of 80 U.S. agricultural, consumer, environmental, public health, and worker groups sent a letter Thursday to key figures in the Biden administration calling for them to "respect Mexico's sovereignty and refrain from interfering with its right to enact health-protective policies" — specifically, the phaseout of the herbicide glyphosate and the cultivation of genetically modified corn.
"Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador quietly rocked the agribusiness world with his New Year's Eve decree," Timothy A. Wise of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (ITAP) noted earlier this year. "His administration sent an even stronger aftershock two weeks later, clarifying that the government would also phase out GM corn imports in three years and the ban would include not just corn for human consumption but yellow corn destined primarily for livestock."
"Mexico imports about 30% of its corn each year, overwhelmingly from the United States," Wise added. "Almost all of that is yellow corn for animal feed and industrial uses. López Obrador's commitment to reducing and, by 2024, eliminating such imports reflects his administration's plan to ramp up Mexican production as part of the campaign to increase self-sufficiency in corn and other key food crops."
The groups' letter on the Mexican policies and U.S. interference — published in English and Spanish — is addressed to recently confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Its lead author is Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA).
"We call on Secretary Vilsack and Trade Representative Tai, as key leaders in the new administration, to respect Mexico's decision to protect both public health and the integrity of Mexican farming," Schafer said in a statement. "It is completely unacceptable for U.S. public agencies to be doing the bidding of pesticide corporations like Bayer, who are solely concerned with maintaining their bottom-line profits."
BREAKING: 80 orgs deliver letter to @USDA, @USTradeRep opposing U.S. interference in Mexico's glyphosate phaseout https://t.co/m7M2o4sFmB— PAN North America (@PAN North America)1619722728.0
Fernando Bejarano, director of Pesticide Action Network in Mexico, explained that "we are part of the No Maize No Country Campaign, a broad coalition of peasant organizations, nonprofit NGOs, academics, and consumers which support the presidential decree and fight for food sovereignty with the agroecological transformation of agricultural systems that guarantee the right to produce and consume healthy, nutritious food, free of pesticides and transgenics."
"We reject the pressure from corporations such as Bayer-Monsanto—and their CropLife trade association—which are working in both the United States and Mexico to undermine the presidential decree that phases out the use of glyphosate and transgenic corn," Bejarano said.
The letter highlights Guardian reporting on U.S. government documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents revealed that CropLife America and Bayer AG—which acquired glyphosate-based herbicide developer Monsanto in 2018—worked with U.S. officials to lobby against Mexico's plans.
According to journalist Carey Gillam's mid-February report:
The emails reviewed by the Guardian come from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and other U.S. agencies. They detail worry and frustration with Mexico's position. One email makes a reference to staff within López Obrador's administration as "vocal anti-biotechnology activists," and another email states that Mexico's health agency (Cofepris) is "becoming a big time problem."
Internal USTR communications lay out how the agrochemical industry is "pushing" for the U.S. to "fold this issue" into the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal that went into effect July 1. The records then show the USTR does exactly that, telling Mexico its actions on glyphosate and genetically engineered crops raise concerns "regarding compliance" with USMCA.
Citing discussions with CropLife, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined in the effort, discussing in an inter-agency email "how we could use USMCA to work through these issues."
The Guardian also noted correspondence involving the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
As the letter to Vilsack and Tai points out: "This interference and pressure from the agrochemical industry is continuing. On March 22nd, industry representatives sent a letter directed to your attention as leaders of USTR and USDA, identifying Mexico's planned phaseout of glyphosate and genetically modified corn as a 'leading concern' for agribusiness interests and the pesticide industry (represented by the pesticide industry's trade group, CropLife America)."
"We strongly object to any interference by U.S. government officials or agribusiness interests in a sovereign state's right to enact policy measures to protect the health and well-being of its people," the letter states. "We urge your agencies to resist and reject these ongoing efforts."
"We welcome the administration's stated commitment to listening to the science, improving public health, protecting the environment, and limiting exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides, while holding polluters accountable and prioritizing environmental justice, particularly for communities of color and low-income communities," it adds. "We trust that these stated commitments, as well as your dedication to 'fairness for farmers,' extend equally to other countries and include respect for other nations' and peoples' rights to self-determination."
Other signatories to the letter include the American Sustainable Business Council, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Indigenous Environmental Network, ITAP, and Organic Consumers Association.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
The research, published in Nature Geoscience Monday, looked at the use and spread of 92 active pesticide ingredients in 168 countries. They considered an area at risk if the concentration of a chemical exceeded the limit at which it would have no effect, and at high risk if that concentration exceeded the limit by a factor of 1,000.
"Our study has revealed 64 percent of the world's arable land is at risk of pesticide pollution," University of Sydney Research Associate and the study's lead author, Dr Fiona Tang said in a University of Sydney press release. "This is important because the wider scientific literature has found that pesticide pollution can have adverse impacts on human health and the environment."
Further, a total of 31 percent of land was at high risk, the study authors wrote.
Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are widely used to boost productivity in farming, the press release noted. However, they have unintended consequences for human and environmental health. They can enter bodies of water through runoff or by entering the groundwater, contaminating drinking water. Pesticides like chlorpyrifos have been shown to harm the cognitive development of children, while others have been linked to cancer. They also pose a threat to wildlife such as bees and birds.
These threats are why the research is important, Tang told AFP.
"It is significant because the potential pollution is widespread and some regions at risk also bear high biodiversity and suffer from water scarcity," she said in an AFP article published by Phys.org.
Specifically, 34 percent of the high risk areas were in regions with high biodiversity while five percent were in water-scarce areas, the study found. Nineteen percent of the high risk areas were in low or middle income countries.
Regionally, Asia had the most high-risk land, with China, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines especially impacted, the press release said. In Europe, almost 62 percent of agricultural land was at high risk, AFP reported. This was largely due to high concentrations in Russia, Ukraine and Spain.
The researchers looked at 59 herbicides, 21 insecticides and 19 fungicides and based their calculations on application rate data from the U.S. Geological Survey and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. They then used a model to estimate how much of the pesticides would remain in the soil, atmosphere, groundwater and surface water.
The researchers pointed out that pesticide use is only expected to increase in the future because of the climate crisis and population growth.
"In a warmer climate, as the global population grows, the use of pesticides is expected to increase to combat the possible rise in pest invasions and to feed more people," coauthor and University of Sydney associate professor Federico Maggi said in the press release.
However, the researchers advised a different path.
"We urgently recommend that a global strategy is established to transition towards sustainable agriculture and sustainable living with low pesticide inputs and reduced food loss and food waste to achieve responsible production and consumption in an acceptable, profitable system," they wrote.
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Residential solar energy systems provide homeowners with a way to minimize their environmental impact and reduce their dependence on electric utilities. One of the biggest obstacles to going solar is the cost of installation, but thankfully, there are a number of solar financing options that homeowners can choose from.
In this article, we'll break down avenues for solar financing including paying in cash, taking out a loan and solar panel leasing. Read on to learn which option might be the best choice for you.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on for and is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice.
Most Common Solar Financing Options to Choose From
When buying solar panels, there are generally three ways for homeowners to pay for their systems: cash, loan or lease. Here's a brief overview of these financing options:
- Pay in cash: The simplest way to purchase solar equipment is in cash. This way, you own the system outright and do not have to pay any kind of interest on it.
- Solar loan: A solar loan is similar to a home improvement loan — it's money you can borrow to cover the cost of solar panels, then pay back over an extended period of time (usually with interest).
- Solar lease: With a solar lease or power purchase agreement, you don't actually own the solar panels on your roof. Instead, you lease them from a solar installer and pay a fixed monthly amount to get electricity that is generated by your home's solar system.
Paying for Solar Panels in Cash
For homeowners who wish to maximize their savings, paying in cash is the optimal way to go. After all, by buying a residential solar system outright, you're essentially paying in advance for 25 to 30 years of electricity to use in your home. This means your energy rates are locked in for decades, and you don't have to worry about inflation or rising utility costs.
The big problem with paying in cash is that the upfront cost of solar equipment tends to be fairly high. Even when you take into account tax incentives and rebates, you're looking at an investment of at least $10,000 to $15,000. This isn't going to be feasible for every homeowner.
Solar Financing Through Loans
Another option is to borrow money from a solar lender, using it to finance your solar installation, then paying it back over time. The most common types of solar loans include unsecured personal loans, home equity loans or lines of credit, and in-house financing through your solar panel installation company.
If you choose a loan as your solar financing route, pay special attention to interest rates and loan terms. How much you pay in interest and your repayment period will often increase the overall cost of your renewable energy system. However, rest assured that homeowners who finance their systems with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit, which may make it a bit easier to pay off that loan.
Some states and local governments have low-interest loan programs for clean energy systems that homeowners can take advantage of. If you're interested in paying for a solar installation via a loan, make sure you research state or municipal programs that are available to you.
Leasing Solar Panels
Homeowners may also choose to either lease their solar panels or participate in a power purchase agreement (PPA), through which you buy the electricity the panels on your roof are producing.
Solar leases and PPAs are pretty similar, but with one significant difference: A solar lease means you're making fixed monthly payments to use solar panels and other solar equipment, whereas a PPA means you're making monthly payments simply for the electricity produced by solar panels. Naturally, the amount of electricity may fluctuate quite a bit from month to month.
Solar leases can seem attractive at first, but for most homeowners, they don't make much financial sense. One reason for this is that homeowners in PPAs or leases are not eligible for the federal solar tax credit. Another thing to note is that solar leases don't enhance your property values, which can be one of the big financial incentives of a residential solar system. Other financing options will allow you to save a lot more money in the long run.
Saving Money on Solar Power
While the initial solar investment can be steep, there are options available to homeowners who wish to save money on their solar installation.
- Federal solar tax credit: Currently, installing a solar system qualifies you for a tax credit that's worth 26% of the total equipment and installation cost. (This number is set to decline in the coming years, so to take full advantage of it, act soon.)
- Local utility rebates: Many municipal utility companies offer rebates to homeowners who go solar. Research your local utility providers to learn more.
- Net metering: Also see if there is a net metering program available in your area. Net metering gives you the opportunity to funnel any surplus energy you generate back into the electrical grid, in exchange for a credit from your utility company.
- Shopping around: Finally, remember that not all solar installers are created equal. Shop around and compare quotes to ensure you're getting the best value.
To start with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company near you, fill out our 30-second form below.
Which Solar Financing Option is Right for You?
Ultimately, the way you choose to pay for your solar panel system will depend on a number of factors, including your expendable income, your credit score and ability to get a good loan rate, and more.
Here's a breakdown of which type of solar panel financing may be right for which homeowners:
|Solar Financing Option||Who it May Be Right For|
|Solar lease or PPA||
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Financing
What is the best way to finance solar?
If you have the funds, paying in cash is the most advantageous way to finance solar. For those without the funds, a solar loan is usually the best way to go. For most homeowners, leasing doesn't make as much financial sense.
Is financing available for solar?
Yes, there are plenty of ways to finance solar panels. Banks, credit unions and even some solar installers offer their own lines of credit, specifically to be used for installing solar equipment.
Is it smart to finance solar panels?
For those without the funds to buy solar equipment outright, financing solar panels can be a flexible and affordable way to lower monthly utility bills and reduce environmental impact.
Are solar loans worth it?
Taking out a solar loan delays your break-even point, but it still lets you cut your electric bills and enhance your property value. For many homeowners, solar loans are well worth it.
Can you rent solar panels?
Yes, leasing solar panels is an option. However, for most homeowners, it is not financially prudent to do so.
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If you've been wanting to try CBD oil, but have been concerned about the price, our guide to the most affordable CBD oils will help you find the best quality CBD products from reputable and trusted brands. We explain how and why we chose our top recommended CBD oils as well as how affordable CBD oils could benefit you. Keep reading to find the right CBD oil for you and your wallet.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the hundreds of natural plant compounds called cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. CBD oil is made by extracting this compound from the hemp plant, then filtering and purifying it into an ingestible tincture. Most CBD tinctures use a carrier oil, like hemp seed, olive, or coconut oil. There are affordable CBD oils and very strong CBD oils. It's important to pay attention to what you're buying.
CBD then works in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which may play a role in regulating process from mood and mental wellness to inflammation and pain. While it is similar in some respects to another naturally-occurring cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects and will not get you high. Like any natural supplement, it's important to choose a high-quality CBD oil from a reputable brand to ensure it is safe and effective.
Cheap CBD Oils vs Cheaply-Made: Spotting the Difference
The price for CBD oils can vary greatly depending on the brand, the concentration, and the amount, among other factors. It's important to note that while you should not automatically select the cheapest option without considering the quality, the most expensive CBD options are not always the best ones either.
An affordable or cheap CBD oil does not mean a cheaply-made CBD product. Instead, our guide highlights CBD products that offer a natural, safe, and effective hemp extract with a competitive price for the type and amount of CBD it includes. We want to help you find dependable and trustworthy CBD at affordable prices, not unsafe or questionable CBD solely based on low prices.
Our Top Affordable CBD Oils for 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Cornbread Hemp
- Most Affordable - R+R Medicinals
- Best Full Spectrum - CBDistillery
- Best Broad Spectrum - Medterra
- Best for Beginners - Naternal
- Best Flavors - FAB CBD
How We Chose the Best Value CBD Oils
In researching the most affordable CBD brands, we looked closely at a number of different criteria to make sure that we only recommended clean, effective, safe, and fairly-priced CBD oils. Here are the details of how we compared each brand so that you can compare for yourself and find the right balance between quality and affordability.
How much CBD a tincture contains will determine how strong it is. The more CBD, in milligrams, per milliliter in a product, the more potent the tincture will be. The strength and potency of the product you choose should be determined by both your experience with CBD and what you are trying to accomplish with it. For example, if you have extreme pain from a chronic health condition, you will want a stronger, more potent CBD oil. Conversely, if you're new to CBD or only want to support your overall wellness and health, then you will want to go with a lower strength.
There are a few methods in which CBD is extracted out of the hemp plant. Those methods include steam distillation, ethanol (solvent) extraction, Co2 extraction, and hydrocarbon extraction. Out of all of these methods, Co2 extraction is the cleanest and most effective because it pulls out higher levels of CBD from the hemp plant. Lastly, of all the methods mentioned, hydrocarbon extraction is the least preferred because it can deposit dangerous toxins in the final product.
CBD comes from industrial hemp plants. The overall quality of the hemp will have a large role in determining how much a product costs as well as the quality. Organic hemp that is clean and pesticide-free, herbicide-free, and chemical-free produces the highest quality CBD oils. CBD brands that use organic hemp will have products that are slightly more expensive than brands that use hemp that is not carefully crafted to be of the best quality. We also typically recommend choosing CBD made from U.S. grown hemp.
Independent Lab Testing
Before you purchase any type of CBD product, you should look to see if it includes independent third-party lab test reports. Even though you are purchasing affordable CBD, you should still know what you are putting into your body. These lab tests will confirm the safety and potency of the products you are purchasing.The top brands that we recommend based on our strict guidelines all utilize independent third-party lab testing and make the results easily accessible for each batch of products.
We also considered the price of each product on our list to make sure that we recommended quality CBD products that are also easy to afford. Since the concentration of CBD can affect the price dramatically, most of the CBD oils we included on our list are lower strength and offer a great place to start if you are new to CBD. Remember, you don't have to sacrifice quality for price and you should never risk taking an unsafe or untested product just because it is cheaper.
6 Best Affordable CBD Oils of 2021 Reviewed
Best Overall: Cornbread Hemp
- Type of CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 25 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Kentucky
Why buy: We recommend Cornbread Hemp because their CBD oils are USDA organic, made from Kentucky-grown organic hemp, and use a unique flower-only extract for a cleaner CBD oil with a light flavor. Their Distilled USDA Organic CBD Oil is a great option for daytime use, and may help provide a sense of calm and relief from anxiety. For a high-quality organic CBD oil, it also comes at an affordable price.
Most Affordable: R+R Medicinalsrrmeds.com
R+R Medicinals Fresh Mint CBD Tincture
- Type of CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 16.67 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: R+R Medicinals offers the most affordable CBD oil on our list, but we like it because it's also USDA organic and made from Colorado-grown hemp. This full spectrum oil comes in a tasty Fresh Mint flavor, from natural mint flavoring, and contains over 2 mg of secondary cannabinoids including CBG, CBC, CBN, THC, and CBL. Choose this oil for a potent dose of natural relief at a fantastic price.
Best Full Spectrum: CBDistillery
- Type of CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 17 mg CBD per serving
- Source - USA
Why buy: Not only is CBDistillery one of the most trusted CBD brands out there, they are also one of the most affordable. We like their Relief + Relax Full Spectrum CBD oil because it made using the aerial parts of non-GMO, U.S.-grown industrial hemp for a dependable full spectrum oil. The 17 mg strength is a good place to start if you are new to CBD as it will allow you to begin with a relatively low dose to see how it affects you. We also love CBDistillery's CBD gummies.
Best Broad Spectrum: Medterra
- Type of CBD - Broad Spectrum
- Strength - 16 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Kentucky
Why buy: Medterra is one of our favorite brands because they offer a line of THC-free broad spectrum oils made from organic hemp grown on farms in Kentucky. The brand's broad spectrum tinctures utilize the full-plant hemp extract without any THC, but still contain other beneficial compounds such as CBG, CBN, CBC, CBL and natural terpenes. This is an affordable and effective option if you want a THC-free CBD oil.
Best for Beginners: Naternal
Naternal Full Spectrum
- Type of CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 40 mg CBD per serving
- Source - North Carolina
Why buy: Naternal CBD oils are both affordable and high-quality. The brand strives to create potent, clean, and affordable oils using organic hemp grown in North Carolina that is free from pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. We especially like Naternal's easy-to-use dosing guide including on each box. This makes it especially simple for new users to measure the appropriate amount of CBD for each serving.
Best Flavors: FAB CBD
- Type of CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 10 mg CBD per 1 mL dropper
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: All of FAB CBD's organic hemp is from Colorado and is pesticide-free, herbicide-free, and devoid of harmful chemicals. FAB CBD also uses the extremely clean Co2 extraction process to acquire its hemp extracts. This is another CBD oil that comes in a great starter dose, and we love the five different flavor options. Choose FAB CBD for an easy and affordable way to introduce CBD into your wellness routine.
The Research on Affordable CBD Oil
CBD oils contain a host of beneficial compounds, phytonutrients, and terpenes. Two of the main cannabinoid compounds are cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When these compounds combine with each other, they produce what's known as the entourage effect. In the entourage effect, the different cannabinoids and compounds work synergistically with the body's endocannabinoid system to enhance the overall benefits of the hemp extract while reducing any side effects.
Every human has an endocannabinoid system that works to regulate bodily functions and sensations. The endocannabinoid system contains two receptors, CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors that are found throughout the body work to regulate pain, emotion, movement, thinking, appetite, memories, and other functions. CB2 receptors are located within the immune system and work to regulate inflammation and pain. When a full spectrum oil enters into the body, the trace amounts of THC will latch onto the CB1 receptors while CBD will attach itself to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors to help the body maintain a state of homeostasis.
Multiple research studies have shown that CBD may help to provide relief for conditions like:
- Sleep issues
- Chronic pain
- Nerve pain
- Muscle aches
- Parkinson's Disease
How to Shop for Cheap CBD Oil
While it might be tempting to only purchase cheap CBD oils based on price, it's better to buy affordable oils from reputable brands instead of cheap oils from brands that potentially cut corners and use inferior ingredients. Hemp plants are bioaccumulators, meaning that they absorb any compounds found in the soil where they grow. Cheaply-made CBD oils may use hemp that has absorbed harmful compounds like heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxins if it is not grown organically.
What to Look For
Here are some of the primary things to look for when comparing the best value CBD oils to make sure that you get high-quality and cheap CBD instead of just cheaply-made CBD.
The most important thing to look for in any CBD product is proof of independent third-party lab testing. This tells you exactly what is in the tincture and how much CBD is contained in each serving. All of the brands on our list make the lab test results of their products easily available, either through their site or through a QR code included on the packaging.
An easy way to identify quality CBD products is to look for professional certifications or seals of approval from industry groups. These can include symbols like USDA organic, U.S. Hemp Authority certified, the Non-GMO Project, and ISO 9001:2015 manufacturing certification.
While looking for cheap CBD, you should make sure to compare prices for similar products and potencies. Certain brands may offer special deals or sizes for a lower price in certain cases, but if you notice a product's price is way off from similar CBD oil options from other brands, it might be too good to be true. Again, you are looking for affordable CBD, not the cheapest option out there.
Check both the brand's site and online for verified customer reviews. These can tell you how the product worked for other users and whether or not it helped provide any benefits. If you can't find any reviews or additional information on a product, it might be better to choose one that has been tried and tested by other actual customers first.
How to Read Labels
When you shop for the best cheap CBD oils, it's a good idea to look at the labels for key information about the product. Here are some tips on how to read them and what kinds of info to look for.
- Concentration - The label should clearly tell you the CBD content of the tincture. This is typically measured in milligrams per 1 milliliter dropper.
- CBD Spectrum - Make sure you know the type of hemp extract used in the product. This is especially important if you want to avoid even trace amounts of THC for a drug test.
- Carrier Oil - Each CBD tincture uses a carrier oil to make the hemp extract digestible. Always make sure that you are not allergic to the carrier oil or any other ingredients present.
- Test Results - The most important thing to look for is certification that the CBD oil has been independently tested by a third-party lab. Most brands include a QR code on the label that links to the results.
How to Use
When it comes to using CBD oil, it's important to understand that there is not one set dose that will work the best for everyone. Everybody is different, and everyone's body responds differently to CBD.
Always remember to start low and go slow. The best general guideline to follow is to begin with 5 mL, or half a dropper full, once a day for one week. After a week has elapsed, see how you're feeling. If you aren't achieving your desired effect, then you can increase the dosage to half a dropper full twice a day for one week. After the week has passed, increase again if needed. Remember, your body needs to adjust to the CBD and that CBD typically works best by building up in your system over time.
Safety & Side Effects
While CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated by most adults, it can cause a few side effects. These side effects are typically mild and are often the result of taking too much CBD at one time. Always consult with your doctor before starting CBD, especially if you have concerns about how CBD will interact with your medications.
Some common side effects of CBD are:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Mild nausea
If you're taking prescription medication, then you might be familiar with the Grapefruit Rule. Put simply, the rule states that some medications cannot be taken with grapefruit or other citrus fruits and juices. CBD functions in very much the same way, as it may change the way that the body metabolizes certain medications. Always consult with your doctor before starting CBD, especially if you have concerns about how CBD will interact with your medications.
There are a lot of affordable CBD oil options out there today, but it's important to distinguish between the brands that have a cheap price and the brands that use cheap ingredients. It's important to find an affordable CBD oil that works best for your budget and for your overall health without sacrificing quality or safety.
By Roger Bales and Brandi McKuin
Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region's climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations.
Western states are pursuing many strategies to adapt to these stresses and prepare for the future. These include measures to promote renewable energy development, conserve water, and manage natural and working lands more sustainably.
As engineers working on climate-smart solutions, we've found an easy win-win for both water and climate in California with what we call the "solar canal solution." About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water – one of California's most critical resources – and help meet the state's renewable energy goals, while also saving money.
Column: Restrictions under California's groundwater law are being formulated, but it’s evident farmers will not be… https://t.co/7wRv1dN2qT— Ian James (@Ian James)1619463926.0
Conserving Water and Land
California is prone to drought, and water is a constant concern. Now, the changing climate is bringing hotter, drier weather.
Severe droughts over the past 10 to 30 years dried up wells, caused officials to implement water restrictions and fueled massive wildfires. As of mid-April 2021, the entire state was officially experiencing drought conditions.
At the same time, California has ambitious conservation goals. The state has a mandate to reduce groundwater pumping while maintaining reliable supplies to farms, cities, wildlife and ecosystems. As part of a broad climate change initiative, in October 2020 Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the California Natural Resources Agency to spearhead efforts to conserve 30% of land and coastal waters by 2030.
Most of California's rain and snow falls north of Sacramento during the winter, while 80% of its water use occurs in Southern California, mostly in summer. That's why canals snake across the state – it's the largest such system in the world. We estimate that about 1%-2% of the water they carry is lost to evaporation under the hot California sun.
In a recent study, we showed that covering all 4,000 miles of California's canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually by reducing evaporation. That's enough to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the residential water needs of more than 2 million people. By concentrating solar installations on land that is already being used, instead of building them on undeveloped land, this approach would help California meet its sustainable management goals for both water and land resources.
In Mendocino and Sonoma counties [drought conditions] are very acute. If you are in another part of the state you p… https://t.co/caAp22qCbH— CA - DWR (@CA - DWR)1619721780.0
Shading California's canals with solar panels would generate substantial amounts of electricity. Our estimates show that it could provide some 13 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, which is about half of the new sources the state needs to add to meet its clean electricity goals: 60% from carbon-free sources by 2030 and 100% renewable by 2045.
Installing solar panels over the canals makes both systems more efficient. The solar panels would reduce evaporation from the canals, especially during hot California summers. And because water heats up more slowly than land, the canal water flowing beneath the panels could cool them by 10 F, boosting production of electricity by up to 3%.
These panels could also generate electricity locally in many parts of California, lowering both transmission losses and costs for consumers. Combining solar power with battery storage can help build microgrids in rural areas and underserved communities, making the power system more efficient and resilient. This would mitigate the risk of power losses due to extreme weather, human error and wildfires.
We estimate that the cost to span canals with solar panels is higher than building ground-mounted systems. But when we added in some of the co-benefits, such as avoided land costs, water savings, aquatic weed mitigation and enhanced PV efficiency, we found that solar canals were a better investment and provided electricity that cost less over the life of the solar installations.
Solar panels installed over canals increase the efficiency of both systems. Brandi McKuin / CC BY-ND
Benefits to the Land
Solar canals are about much more than just generating renewable energy and saving water. Building these long, thin solar arrays could prevent more than 80,000 acres of farmland or natural habitat from being converted for solar farms.
California grows food for an ever-increasing global population and produces more than 50% of the fruits, nuts and vegetables that U.S. consumers eat. However, up to 50% of new renewable energy capacity to meet decarbonization goals could be sited in agricultural areas, including large swaths of prime farmland.
Solar canal installations will also protect wildlife, ecosystems and culturally important land. Large-scale solar developments can result in habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, which can harm threatened species such as the Mojave Desert tortoise.
They also can harm desert scrub plant communities, including plants that are culturally important to indigenous tribes. As an example, construction of the Genesis Solar Energy Center in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in 2012-2014 destroyed trails and burial sites and damaged important cultural artifacts, spurring protracted legal conflict.
Clearing the Air
By generating clean electricity, solar canals can improve air quality – a serious problem in central California, which has some of the dirtiest air in the U.S. Solar electricity could help retire particulate-spewing diesel engines that pump water through California's agricultural valleys. It also could help charge growing numbers of electric light- and heavy-duty vehicles that move people and goods around the state.
Yet another benefit would be curbing aquatic weeds that choke canals. In India, where developers have been building solar canals since 2014, shade from the panels limits growth of weeds that block drains and restrict water flow.
Fighting these weeds with herbicide and mechanical equipment is expensive, and herbicides threaten human health and the environment. For large, 100-foot-wide canals in California, we estimate that shading canals would save about US$40,000 per mile. Statewide, savings could reach $69 million per year.
Artist rendering of a solar canal system for California. Solar Aquagrid LLC / CC BY-ND
Bringing Solar Canals to California
While India has built solar arrays over canals and the U.S. is developing floating solar projects, California lacks prototypes to study locally.
Discussions are underway for both large and small demonstration projects in the Central Valley and Southern California. Building prototypes would help operators, developers and regulators refine designs, assess environmental impacts, measure project costs and benefits, and evaluate how these systems perform. With more data, planners can map out strategies for extending solar canals statewide, and potentially across the West.
It will take a dozen or more partners to plan, fund and carry out a solar canal project in California. Public-private partnerships will likely include federal, state and local government agencies, project developers and university researchers.
California's aging power infrastructure has contributed to catastrophic wildfires and multi-day outages. Building smart solar developments on canals and other disturbed land can make power and water infrastructure more resilient while saving water, reducing costs and helping to fight climate change. We believe it's a model that should be considered across the country – and the planet.
Roger Bales is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering, University of California, Merced.
Brandi McKuin is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Disclosure statement: Nothing to disclose. Roger Bales does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
By Paul Brown
It may come as a surprise to realize that a plant struggling for survival in a harsh environment is also doing its bit to save the planet from the threats of the rapidly changing climate. But that's what Mexico's cactuses are managing to do.
Research published in the journal The Science of Nature shows that desert soils supporting a high density of cactus contain large quantities of stored bio-minerals (minerals produced by living organisms), formed by the action of the plants in extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Not only that. Cactuses can also be harvested, processed and turned into a form of leather used to make fashion accessories like purses and wallets.
These two attributes have been turned into a successful business by a Mexican/American company, CACTO. It claims to be the first "carbon negative fashion company in the Americas" − in other words, its activities remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it creates in making and marketing its products.
No Animals Involved
This is a bold claim in an industry struggling with its poor environmental record. According to McKinsey and Co. the worldwide fashion industry emits about the same amount of greenhouse gases as France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined. But CACTO gives Mexico's cactuses special treatment.
CACTO's products are vegan and so allow a growing class of consumers to buy leather objects that are made without any animal products.
The research into the ability of cactus to extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it was carried out on one cactus species, the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), which can grow to 40 feet.
It is native to the Sonoran desert in Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora, and shares with all other cactus varieties the same abilities for dealing with carbon. This has proved a bonus for CACTO because cactuses are the most numerous plants in Mexico.
CACTO's plantations are organic, fed by rainwater, free of herbicides and pesticides, and renewable, and after the ears, or leaves; of the cactus are harvested, the plant grows a replacement in six to eight months. This regeneration allows repeat harvesting. The leaves are then sun-dried to avoid using any electricity. The company's products (available only in green or black) are on sale in more than 100 countries.
CACTO was founded by Jesus Chavez, a climate campaigner, and was designed to have sustainability as a guiding principle at the core of its operation. The entire production cycle is closely monitored by its staff, from the sourcing of materials to production, packaging, distribution and shipping.
Through a partnership with a Swiss non-profit organisation, On a Mission, CACTO says its staff have measured and offset 150% of its CO2 emissions through sustainable reforestation worldwide.
The measurement and offsetting process will take place every six months for the next 10 years. Through several emergent partnerships, the company says it aims to offset at least 1000% of the emissions it generates by the end of 2021.
Jesus Chavez said: "If we want to succeed in reaching net zero carbon emissions well before 2050 and avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we must all work in concert in whatever capacity we are able to.
"Industries across the board need to benefit from existing technology and offsetting programs to become carbon-negative, and to invest in new research and innovation to reach that goal faster. The decisions we make this decade will determine the fate of humanity for centuries to come. It is up to us now."
He said customers around the world wanted alternatives to materials that increased pollution and to unethical manufacturing processes.
CACTO hopes to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to make clear what has been evident to specialists for decades, that decoupling emissions from economic growth is not only feasible, but is the smartest, fastest and most responsible way to grow. Mexico's cactuses bear a heavy responsibility on their ears − or leaves − or branches.
Reposted with permission from Climate News Network.
By Danielle Nierenberg
The food system accounts for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent study published in Nature Food.
But with every meal, consumers have the opportunity to make climate-friendly decisions that reduce their carbon footprint. From eating seasonally to adopting a plant-forward diet, Food Tank is highlighting nine ways to eat well and support the environment.
And tune in at 2:00 p.m. EDT on April 28 for Food Tank and Compass Group's Stop Food Waste Day. Chefs, policymakers, food system experts, and more will share impactful ways that everyone can reduce food loss and food waste and support the environment. Learn more and register here.
1. Eat Up
The best foods are the ones we don't waste at all. Most of us only eat the florets from vegetables like broccoli, but the leaves can be tasty as a side dish instead of spinach; they can be roasted with the florets; or sautéed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Or Chef Haile Thomas of The Happy Org suggests making pesto of almost anything that is wilting in your refrigerator—including surprising veggies like lettuce. Blended with walnuts or pine nuts and olive oil, lettuce pesto can be a delicious spread or used on pasta. You can hear more tips like this one from the Compass Group and Food Tank Stop Food Waste Day event.
2. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
Locally and regionally grown foods give eaters a chance to know who grows their food and the farming practices they use. Because regional food choices are not shipped hundreds or, even, thousands of miles, they tend to be more delicious. They have the extra benefit of contributing to the local economy. Let's not forget that local and regional farmers were able to pivot during the pandemic and were able to keep many of us fed.
3. Perennial Goodness
Perennial, those that don't need to be planted from year to year like annuals, have several benefits. According to The Land Institute perennials do not require annual plowing or herbicide applications to grow so they're better for the environment. Asparagus, grapes, artichokes, rhubarb and grains like Kernza are delicious ways to incorporate perennials into your meals and there's even a beer made from Kernza!
4. Eating Seasonally
Most of us are used to getting whatever foods we want at any time of year—whether it's strawberries in November or blueberries in February. According to FoodPrint in-season produce usually tastes better. And they say that seasonal food can be more nutritious than food consumed out of season.
5. Becoming Plant-Centric
From Meatless Mondays to Veganuary, there are a lot of campaigns encouraging eaters to consume less or no meat. And while going vegan or vegetarian may not be for everyone, there are lots of benefits to eating less eat a few days week. Chefs and advocates like Dan Barber have been advocating for years to make vegetables the centers of our plates with meat used sparingly, more like a condiment.
6. Supporting BIPOC, Asian, and Women-Owned Businesses
It's no secret that the pandemic has unveiled a lot of painful truths about inequity in the food system. Now is the time to recognize businesses that have lacked support and attention. Guides from Esquire, Vice, and Spoon University can let eaters know how to support these businesses.
7. Avoiding Big Meat, Dairy, and Eggs
The Double Pyramid created by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition highlights that foods that are the worst for human also can hurt planetary health. And industrial animal products are not only high on the pyramid, but they have a huge impact on workers—from those who work in factory farms to processing plants. Grass-fed and organic meat and dairy tend to have more Omega-3s and again, can support local economies.
8. Ditching Ultra-Processed Foods
While many of us have found comfort in cookies, chips, and other ultra-processed foods over the last year, these foods are high in fat, sodium, and sugar and low in nutrients. According to a recent study in JAMA Network Open, those of us who were under shelter-in-place orders gained about half a pound every 10 days or roughly two pounds per month. But not all processed foods are bad—canned foods, especially those made from produce from our gardens, can be a healthy and delicious way to save produce. And dehydrating and drying herbs and veggies can make our harvests last a long time.
9. Escape From the Cult of Fresh
While fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious and delicious, overzealous buying at the grocery store or farmers market can mean that much of them go to waste. Frozen food sales, including vegetables, soared during the pandemic—they're convenient, easy to use, and because they're typically harvested and frozen at their peak, they maintain their nutritional value.
Danielle Nierenberg is the president of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She has written extensively on gender and population, the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
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"Today's decision is a massive win for farmers and the environment. It is good to be reminded that corporations like Monsanto and the Trump Administration cannot escape the rule of law, particularly at a time of crisis like this," lead counsel George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety told U.S. Right to Know. "Their day of reckoning has arrived."
The Center for Food Safety sued the EPA together with National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America. The groups argued that the EPA broke the law when it ruled on the safety of a kind of dicamba designed by Monsanto to be sprayed widely over crops genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide. This method means the dicamba can drift to other, non-resistant crops.
The herbicide is believed to have damaged 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 2017, and more than 1 million in 2018, Bloomberg News reported.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the EPA "substantially understated the risks" of the herbicides and also "failed entirely to acknowledge other risks," according to U.S. Right to Know.
The court found @EPA refused to estimate the amount of dicamba damage, characterizing such damage as “potential” an… https://t.co/ev2bah3opD— carey gillam (@carey gillam)1591228144.0
One of the risks the EPA failed to acknowledge was the "enormous social cost to farming communities" where the herbicide's use "has turned farmer against farmer, and neighbor against neighbor," the court wrote, according to Bloomberg. A farmer was shot and killed because of a dicamba-related argument in Arkansas in 2016.
Bayer told Reuters that the ruling impacted a 2018 EPA approval that expires in December and that it is currently at work on a new 2021 approval.
"Depending upon actions by the EPA and whether the ruling is successfully challenged, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season," Bayer said.
The ruling comes around four months after a jury ruled against Bayer and BASF and in favor of a Missouri farmer who said the companies' dicamba products destroyed his peach orchard, according to Bloomberg.
That was the first of around 140 pending dicamba suits awaiting trial.
The dicamba suits are not the only suits Bayer inherited when it acquired Monsanto, Reuters pointed out. Wednesday's dicamba decision came days after arguments were heard in an appeal of the first case to go to trial over whether or not the glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup causes cancer.
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By Reynard Loki
A federal appeals court has ruled that unless the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can prove that the pesticide chlorpyrifos is safe, it must be banned. The chemical, which has been widely used on agricultural crops for more than 50 years, has been linked to neurological development issues in children, with mounting evidence implicating its role in autism, ADHD, motor skills and loss of IQ. In the 2-to-1 ruling on April 29, judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit gave the federal government 60 days to either rescind all uses of chlorpyrifos related to food or to show evidence that in certain cases it is safe for public health.
In the majority opinion in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Regan, which was filed in 2007, Judge Jed Rakoff, a Clinton appointee, wrote, "[T]he EPA has spent more than a decade assembling a record of chlorpyrifos's ill effects and has repeatedly determined, based on that record, that it cannot conclude, to the statutorily required standard of reasonable certainty, that the present tolerances are causing no harm," adding that "EPA's egregious delay exposed a generation of American children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos." Rakoff was joined by Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, an Obama appointee.
"Yet, rather than ban the pesticide or reduce the tolerances to levels that the EPA can find are reasonably certain to cause no harm, the EPA has sought to evade, through one delaying tactic after another, its plain statutory duties," Rakoff wrote in the opinion, in which he stopped short of requiring the agency to ban the chemical, but left little room to keep it on the market. "The EPA must act based upon the evidence and must immediately revoke or modify chlorpyrifos tolerances." Pregnant women and their fetuses, young children and farmworkers are particularly at risk from chlorpyrifos, which was first registered for use in 1965.
"There are numerous studies showing that exposure to chlorpyrifos in the womb harms children's brain development," said Dr. Warren Seigel, chair of New York State American Academy of Pediatrics. "The science is clear, and this pesticide should have been banned years ago."
The ruling "virtually guarantees" that the EPA will revoke food-related applications of chlorpyrifos, according to dissenting Judge Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, who argued that his colleagues overreached and "misread" the agency's obligations to review specific uses of the chemical that it had previously determined were safe. He criticized the majority, saying that it "substituted its own judgment for EPA's decision."
The EPA is reviewing the ruling, saying in a statement that the agency is "committed to helping support and protect farmworkers and their families while ensuring pesticides are used safely among the nation's agriculture. … EPA will continue to use sound science in the decision-making process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act" (FIFRA).
The ruling comes nearly two years after the Trump administration rejected a proposed Obama-era ban of the controversial pesticide, keeping it on the market despite aggressive calls against its continued use by public health and environmental groups. The Trump EPA decision, made in July of 2019, was a major gift to Dow Chemical, the maker of the pesticide, in what appeared as an act of quid pro quo. On December 6, 2016, less than a month after Trump's election, the agrochemical giant donated $1 million to his inaugural committee. Then, on January 17, 2017, just three days before Trump was sworn into the Oval Office, Dow filed a petition with the EPA to reject the Obama-era proposal to ban the pesticide. On March 29, 2017, then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced his decision to cancel the proposed ban.
"This is what we now know is the modus operandi of Trump and his EPA: corruption couched as policy," said Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, following Pruitt's decision. "Trump and his political appointees at the agency show nearly every day that they are not there to protect Americans' health but to cater to the whims of polluters. If you're looking for evidence of corrupt collusion with sinister interests, here it is in plain view."
What a difference a new administration makes. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the EPA to review the Trump administration's decision to deny the 2007 petition to ban food-related chlorpyrifos. It is unlikely that the Biden EPA will fight the appellate court ruling.
Environmental and farmworker groups applauded the court's decision. "Today, we celebrate this huge victory alongside the men and women who harvest our food, who have waited too long for a ban on this pesticide," said Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers, in a statement. "We are relieved that farmworkers and their families will no longer have to worry about the myriad of ways this pesticide could impact their lives."
The ruling could bring more attention to the public health and environmental risks of other harmful pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, which are deadly to bees and other pollinators that are key to crop pollination. Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit, has launched a public petition urging Americans to tell their congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act, introduced in 2020 by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).
The bill seeks to strengthen the EPA's authority under FIFRA to regulate the distribution, sale and use of pesticides, and ban some of the most toxic pesticides used across the nation, including all neonicotinoids, organophosphates (a class of phosphorus-based insecticides that includes chlorpyrifos) and paraquat, an herbicide that has been linked to renal, hepatic and respiratory damage, and which is already banned in 32 countries.
Are pesticides even necessary? Some experts believe that, while there are obvious trade-offs to spraying toxic chemicals on crops, using pesticides properly can actually protect some parts of the environment. Pesticides "allow us to maximize production on the smallest footprint of land. This is called 'land sparing,'" said Tim Durham, a professor of agronomy and agricultural sciences at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia. "If we decided to [forgo] pesticides, we'd need to appropriate a much larger chunk of land to do the same job and land that happens to be the most biodiverse and at-risk." Durham, who is also part of his family's vegetable farm on Long Island, New York, adds, "Pesticides provide some measure of predictability in the otherwise unpredictable world of farming, helping to stabilize commodity prices and keeping prices low in the grocery aisle."
However, some advocates of organic farming, which is committed to zero pesticides, or limited pesticide use under National Organic Program standards, say that conventional industrial farming that is heavily reliant on chemical use isn't necessary to feed the world's population.
"The myth that organic food can't feed the world isn't just wrong, it's downright counterproductive," according to the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, that supports organic agriculture research. "Organic can compete with conventional yields and outperform conventional in adverse weather. Small farmers using organic methods have huge potential to expand global food production. And only organic methods actively regenerate resources and protect the environment from pollution and toxic waste. For a healthy future, we can't afford anything less."
Reynard Loki is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute, where he serves as the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He was named one of FilterBuy's Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016. His work has been published by Yes! Magazine, Salon, Truthout, BillMoyers.com, Counterpunch, EcoWatch and Truthdig, among others.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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By Andrea Germanos
Despite lower applied amounts of pesticides in U.S. agriculture, their toxicity to non-target species including honeybees more than doubled in a decade, according to a new study.
The findings by a team of researchers from Germany's University Koblenz-Landau were published Friday in the journal Science.
"We have taken a large body of pesticide use data from the U.S. and have expressed changes of amounts applied in agriculture over time as changes in total applied pesticide toxicity," explained lead author Ralf Schulz, professor for environmental sciences in Landau, in a statement.
"This provides a new view on the potential consequences that pesticide use in agriculture has on biodiversity and ecosystems," he said.
The researchers looked at changes in the use of 381 pesticides from 1992 to 2016 and analyzed toxicity impacts on eight non-target species groups, drawing data from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency. They used the EPA's threshold values to determine "total applied pesticide toxicity."
Lower amounts of pesticides have been applied, which brought decreased impacts on vertebrates, the scientists noted. But the same can't be said for non-target species including aquatic invertebrates like crustaceans and pollinators like bees, who faced a doubling in toxicity between 2005 and 2015 — a shift the authors put on increases in the use of pesticides called pyrethroids and neonicotinoids.
Also troubling is that an increase in herbicide toxicity has been on the rise as well, the scientists said, with the biggest impact seen on terrestrial plants. The study pointed to increased toxicity in the widely cultivated genetically modified crops in the U.S. of corn and soybean.
Schulz said the findings "challenge the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM crops and call for action to reduce the pesticide toxicity applied in agriculture worldwide."
The study was released amid continued concerns, both nationally and international, about wide-ranging adverse ecological impacts of neonicotinoids, or neonics, as they're sometimes called, especially amid a global decline in insect numbers that threatens humanity's future.
As Philip Donkersley, a senior research associate in entomology at Lancaster University, wrote this month at The Conversation:
Since their introduction in the late 1980s, robust scientific evidence has emerged to suggest these chemicals impair learning and memory, foraging behavior, and pollination in bees. The E.U. banned neonicotinoids in 2019, and while the U.K. government pledged to follow suit, it granted a special exemption for sugar beet farmers to use the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam in January 2021. Thankfully, it wasn't used.
Because honeybees don't spend much time on the ground, environmental risk assessments for neonicotinoids often neglect to consider how exposure to these chemicals in the soil affects all pollinators. But in a landmark study published in Nature, researchers have shown how neonicotinoids affect bees not just by accumulating in the plants pollinators visit, but in the ground where most wild bees build their nests.
Evidence suggests neonics' impacts go well beyond bees, including possibly to mammals like deer who inadvertently consume them.
As Civil Eats reported last month, the concerns are prompting continued demands for U.S. regulators to take action to curb or ban use of neonics.
Daniel Raichel, a staff attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the outlet: "It's a bee issue for sure, but really, it's an ecosystem issue. It's an everything issue."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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For coffee drinkers, there's really nothing more terrifying than the thought of waking up one morning and being all out of java. One way to ensure that never happens is to sign up for a coffee subscription service. This not only keeps you well-stocked, but it also gives you the opportunity to sample some high-quality and organic coffee beans from around the world.
Of course, like any eco-friendly meal kit service, a coffee subscription box should match your own preferences while also being good for people and the planet. You can now get a subscription for almost anything, including vitamin subscription services and eco-friendly cleaning products. Why not add coffee to your list? In this article, we'll take a closer look at some of the top organic and specialty coffee subscription options on the market today.
Our Picks for the Top Coffee Subscriptions
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Organic Coffee - Purity Coffee
- Best Keto Coffee - Bulletproof Coffee
- Best Subscription - Yes Plz Coffee
- Best Coffee Selection - Angels' Cup
- Best Carbon-Free Coffee - Grounds for Change
- Best B Corp Coffee - Conscious Coffee
- Best for International Coffees - Atlas Coffee Club
- Best for Specialty Coffees - Bean Box
- Best for Artisan Coffees - Mistobox
- Most Eco-Friendly - Driftaway Coffee
- Best Variety of Brews - Blue Bottle Coffee
- Most Affordable - Peet's Coffee
- Best for Home and Office - Crema Coffee
How We Chose the Best Coffee Subscriptions
Min Kim / Getty Images
Before we get into specific recommendations, it may be helpful to note some of the criteria we used for making our assessment. Our ranking factors include:
Some subscription services do a better job than others of giving coffee lovers lots of options, not only allowing you to pick between different beans, but also allowing you to pick from whole bean vs. ground coffee. We also gave bonus points to subscription services that provide freshly-roasted craft coffee.
Another important consideration is how much flexibility you have in your actual subscription. We love services that give you some choice in how much coffee you actually need, how often you wish to receive your next box, and the ability to try new flavors.
USDA Organic/Fair Trade/Rainforest Alliance Certifications
Many coffee drinkers will want to verify that their purchase is Fair Trade and/or USDA organic certified. We looked for the best coffee subscriptions that make the environment and the people that grow their coffee a priority in sourcing. If they didn't have these certifications, we looked to see if they explained how they approached their sourcing instead.
A lot of enthusiasts prefer single-origin coffee; that is, coffee made exclusively from beans grown in one specific geographic area. Single-origin coffee tends to provide unique characteristics and flavor notes that blended coffees cannot match.
If you're looking to minimize your environmental footprint then you'll definitely want to account for the sustainability practices of each subscription service. This can encompass the service's supply chain, production, packaging, and shipping.
Naturally, one of the deciding factors in your organic coffee or healthy energy drink subscription will be the price. Some subscriptions are more budget-friendly than others. We tried to select subscription options that that are affordable and still offer subscribers amazing coffee they can't find at the grocery store.
Our 13 Favorite Organic and Specialty Coffee Subscriptions
Best Organic Coffee: Purity Coffee
Purity Coffee claims that their process maximizes the health benefits naturally found in coffee. They only use 100% USDA-certified organic coffee beans for all of their coffees. These are then screened for pesticides and molds, and then roasted using a special smokeless roasting process to ensure it contains the highest-possible levels of antioxidants. Subscribers can save on each order, and prepaid subscriptions receive free shipping.
Why buy: Not only is Purity Coffee 100% organic, it's also sustainably sourced. They offer several specialty Founders' Roasts that are Rainforest Alliance-certified and Smithsonian Bird Friendly-certified for the grower's commitment to biodiversity and habitat conservation.
Best Keto Coffee: Bulletproof Coffee
Bulletproof Coffee is a keto coffee, or butter coffee, that contains both high-quality coffee and good fats to provide even more fuel to your mornings. It's meant to replace carb and sugar-heavy breakfasts while giving you what you need to get going. Bulletproof Coffee uses Rainforest Alliance-certified beans grown in direct partnership with farmers on high-altitude estates in Guatemala and Colombia. With their subscription option you can save 10% on each order, and receive free shipping on orders over $35.
Why buy: Not only can Bulletproof Coffee change the way you start your day with a keto-friendly cup of coffee, but the coffee itself is grown using sustainable methods, is sustainably washed and mechanically dried, and then thoroughly tested for toxins and impurities.
Best Subscription: Yes Plz Coffee
Yes Plz Coffee offers a coffee subscription service that delivers a new and unique blend every single week. You can choose the size and schedule of your deliveries, including an 8.8 oz or 12 oz package delivered every week, every two weeks, every three weeks, or once a month. They source their coffee beans from smaller importers who prioritize transparency and relationships with their growers and millers.
Why buy: We love that Yes Plz Coffee offers so many different subscription options to fit your schedule, and that they can provide a unique roast each and every week. This is a great way to experience a new, expertly roasted coffee every week, or every month, that you can cancel any time.
Best Coffee Selection: Angels' Cup
If you're just getting into serious coffee consumption, or want to dip your toes into the subscription model, Angels' Cup is an excellent starting point. You can begin by getting just a single 12 ounce bag of coffee, and they also offer blind sampler packs and subscriptions with different frequency levels, including weekly, twice monthly, or monthly. Their mobile app will help you discover the different tasting notes to find your favorites.
Why buy: There's a lot of flexibility built into the Angels' Cup model, making it an ideal choice for those who are new to the gourmet coffee scene. While they don't source the coffees themselves, they do work with roasters who pay well-above Fair Trade prices.
Best Carbon-Free Coffee: Grounds for Change
Grounds for Change has a reputation for being one of the most progressive, stewardship-minded coffee companies out there. If you're looking for Fair Trade, organic, and/or carbon-free options, this certified B corp is where you can find them. They also showcase a lot of unique collections, from single-origin coffees to some enticing decaf options, that are well worth investigating. We're more than happy to include Grounds for Change on our list.
Why buy: In terms of social responsibility, Grounds for Change can't be topped. They are the only company on our list that offers carbon-free coffee, meaning they offset 100% of the emissions from their coffees.
Best B Corp Coffee: Conscious Coffees
Conscious Coffees has made some really admirable investments in coffee-growing communities across the world. Their model of sustainability and corporate responsibility is commendable, but they are equally passionate about exquisite roasting. They belong on our list for these reasons and so many more, including their emphasis on 100 percent organic coffee, small-batch freshness, and sustainable sourcing.
Why buy: Conscious Coffees sets a high bar for stewardship and responsibility. We strongly recommend them to anyone who wants to invest in sustainable coffee-farming across the world.
Best for International Coffees: Atlas Coffee Club
One of the many reasons to consider a subscription coffee service is that it will give you a chance to explore different flavors from around the world. And there is no subscription service that serves up international variety quite like Atlas Coffee Club. Each month, you'll get a new coffee from a different country like Costa Rica, Colombia, or Ethiopia, in a bag that's modeled after indigenous textiles or local landscapes. For anyone who loves to travel or simply likes to try new things, Atlas Coffee Club offers a truly transportive experience.
Why buy: There's no better option for trying out different coffee flavors from across cultures. The company also pays well above market prices to growers to support ethically sustainable farming practices.
Best for Specialty Coffees: Bean Box
Bean Box is another outstanding choice for java enthusiasts who are curious to sample different tastes. Based in Seattle, Bean Box partners with different coffee roasters who specialize in single-origin coffees and coffee blends from around the world, including Africa, South America, and more. They'll send you a different blend each month, allowing you to develop a really broad and sophisticated palette. We also really love the price point on this one, which offers a great value.
Why buy: If you're looking for a budget-friendly way to sample specialty coffees, Bean Box is a great coffee subscription service to consider.
Best for Artisan Coffees: Mistobox
If you're attempting to maximize your coffee variety, you'll probably be over the moon about Mistobox. This coffee subscription company boasts partnerships with more than 50 roasters across the world, which is all but unparalleled. We also recommend them due to their commitment to Fair Trade and ecologically sustainable practices. Mistobox has a coffee curation service that will help you determine just where to start. So, if you feel overwhelmed by all the different organic coffee options, Mistobox has you covered.
Why buy: We recommend Mistobox for their sustainability, their corporate citizenship, their sheer variety of organic coffees, and their curation options.
Most Eco-Friendly: Driftaway Coffee
With Driftaway Coffee, the name of the game is personalization. Their service will actually enable you to establish "coffee profiles," pinpointing your tastes and helping them determine exactly what to send you each month. As if that weren't enough, Driftaway guarantees single-source whole bean coffees, and they also do an exemplary job of providing compostable packaging. Finally, they have a sustainability program that supports regional farmers.
Why buy: A great pick for single-origin whole bean coffee, and also a really great model for sustainability within the single-origin coffee subscription vertical.
Best Variety of Brews: Blue Bottle Coffee
If you really want your coffee to be as fresh as can be, then we heartily recommend Blue Bottle Coffee. They ship everything within 48 hours of roasting, ensuring you get the most vibrant flavors. Another thing we'll mention about this organic coffee subscription service is that they provide a lot of different options for espresso, decaf, single-origin, and blended coffees. There's definitely a lot to like here, especially if you're keen on small-batch coffee.
Why buy: For fresh flavors and plenty of variety, Blue Bottle Coffee is a great choice. The majority of their coffees are certified organic, and they pay at least Fair Trade prices to growers, often more.
Most Affordable: Peet's Coffee
Peet's Coffee has a ton of great products to consider, including some eclectic subscription options. You can take your pick between their small batch series, single-origin coffees, signature blends, and beyond. What's more, they boast plenty of flexibility with scheduling, making it easy to get coffee exactly when you need it. Plus they offer free shipping on coffee subscriptions.
Why buy: Peet's is an outstanding choice for anyone seeking plenty of variety and built-in flexibility. You may recognize them from the grocery store, but this brand is seriously committed to responsible sourcing, support for local farmers, and energy-efficient roasting.
Best for Homes and Offices: Crema Coffee
Crema Coffee is a popular choice among coffee connoisseurs, and it's not hard to understand why. There are over 450 coffees to choose from, spanning roasters located all over the world. You can customize your subscription to make certain you only get the roasts you're really going to be into, and you can even rate coffees to help keep track of your tastes. Crema Coffee offers subscription packages for your household and for your workplace.
Why buy: Crema Coffee offers incredible variety, plenty of options for personalization, and even a subscription model for your office. They ensure that they only work with roasters committed to an ethical coffee supply chain.
How Does a Coffee Subscription Work?
Clearly, there are plenty of options to choose from as you seek a subscription-based coffee delivery service. But if you're new to this whole concept, you may have some lingering questions about precisely what you can expect from your coffee subscription.
First of all, keep in mind that these subscriptions, like ones you can get for eco-friendly laundry detergent subscriptions, all work a little bit differently. Most of the companies on our list offer a coffee of the month club and provide different coffees to try with each delivery.
For a general overview of the coffee subscription process, though, you can typically expect something a bit like this:
Select the Type of Subscription You Want
Are you looking to get just a sampler of coffee beans each month? Or do you want to stay well-supplied, with new coffees arriving more frequently? Choosing your preferred subscription model is usually the first step.
Choose What Kind of Coffee You Want
Different subscription services will allow you different levels of customization, but there is always some way of indicating your preferences, whether you like dark roasts over light roasts, single-origin coffees over blends, etc.
Get Coffee Delivered to You
Most coffee subscription services will box your coffee in recyclable/compostable materials and deliver right to your front door. Because it's so important to maintain freshness, most subscription companies ship within a day or two of roasting.
Prepare Your Coffee
Note that, with whole bean options, you'll actually need a grinder to grind your coffee; if you choose ground coffee, then it will be ready to brew as soon as it shows up at your door.
Try New Types of Coffee
Finally, note that subscription coffee companies tend to rotate their roaster throughout the year. Make sure you explore some different options, and you might just discover your next favorite coffee!
Coffee Subscription FAQ
What is Fair Trade coffee?
We've highlighted the importance of Fair Trade coffee, but what exactly does this term mean? Essentially, when you buy Fair Trade coffee, it means that you are directly supporting local coffee-growing families in the developing world. More specifically, Fair Trade denotes a commitment to fair prices, community development efforts, and good stewardship of the environment. The Fair Trade designation is an important way to verify that you're getting ethically-sourced coffee beans. Fair Trade sets a floor on prices that allow coffee farmers to make a living, and many specialty coffee roasters pay much more than Fair Trade prices to local growers.
How is Organic Coffee Grown?
Another common question: What does it mean for coffee to be USDA-certified as organic? Fundamentally, organic coffee is grown without the use of any artificial chemicals, including prohibited pesticides and herbicides. To achieve the official USDA certification, a coffee must be at least 95 percent organic. Growers in certain regions may have trouble attaining this certification for various reasons, but specialty roasters typically seek to support sustainable farming practices and supply chains.
What is Single-Origin Coffee?
Single-origin coffee refers to a coffee made with beans that are all grown in one specific region. This type of coffee offers some really unique flavors and characteristics. The alternative is blended coffee, which may mix beans that come from a multiple places. Many coffee enthusiasts prefer the purity of single-origin, though of course, this is all a matter of personal preference.
Order Your Coffee Subscription Today
Looking for a way to get organic, Fair Trade coffee delivered straight to your front door? There are plenty of subscription models that will do just that, all while letting you sample some incredible beans from across the world.
Take a look at the options we've listed here, and look for the coffee subscription service that seems like it's best aligned with your tastes and your budget. And from there, just sit back and wait for your next bag of coffee beans to show up at your home or office.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
More than half the bacteria in the human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate, the mostly commonly used herbicide in the world, reported scientists this month in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland recently developed a novel bioinformatics tool to predict if beneficial bacteria in the human gut are affected by exposure to glyphosate.
They found that the herbicide could disturb the natural cycles of microbiome life, and potentially harm human health, through weakening the system and causing greater susceptibility to diseases.
"Glyphosate targets an enzyme ... [that] is crucial to synthesizing three essential amino acids," said Pere Puigbò, who co-developed the bioinformatics tool.
Glyphosate is regularly in the news, viewed as a potential threat to health and well-being because of its widespread use on crops including corn, soy and canola. It is also a household weed killer, particularly the Monsanto/Bayer-owned brand Roundup.
The herbicide is currently banned from many countries including Germany, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, and is heavily restricted in others. Cities and states across the U.S. are starting to reduce use or pushing for a ban, due to mounting health concerns. Other cities, such as Los Angeles and Miami, have already banned use.
"We need experimental research to study the effects of glyphosate on microbial communities in variable environments," said researcher Marjo Helander in a statement about the findings.
"This groundbreaking study provides tools for further studies to determine the actual impact of glyphosate on human and animal gut microbiota and thus to their health."
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The Trump administration said Tuesday that federal protection for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act is still a few years away. The reason? The administration cited 161 vulnerable species that are already waiting in line ahead of monarchs.
Monarchs will likely have to wait until 2023 to be added by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reuters reported. The federal agency oversees listing endangered species.
"Protection for monarchs is needed — and warranted — now," said George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, Reuters reported.
Monarch butterfly populations have exponentially decreased in the past decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. For example, North America's Eastern monarch butterflies traditionally migrate up to 3,000 miles every year from the eastern U.S. to Mexico to spend the winter, but migration numbers are falling.
Overall, the Western monarch population declined by more than 97 percent to fewer than 30,000 between 1997 and 2019, Reuters reported, while the Eastern U.S. population declined 84 percent during the same period.
"We conducted an intensive, thorough review using a rigorous, transparent science-based process and found that the monarch meets listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith told CBS News. "However, before we can propose listing, we must focus resources on our higher-priority listing actions."
Monarch butterflies may not have the time to wait.
"Forty-seven species have gone extinct waiting for their protection to be finalized," Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told CBS News. "This decision continues the delay in implementing a national recovery plan which monarchs desperately need."
A decline in milkweed plants partly explains the falling monarch numbers. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, but the plants are being killed off thanks to farmers spraying Roundup, a common herbicide, on their crops, The New York Times reported. Milkweed generally grows in between crops and cannot survive Roundup. It doesn't help that affected farmland is also prime monarch breeding ground.
In the meantime, there are numerous environmental groups and citizen efforts working to protect the species, including farmers paid by the federal government to maintain pollinator habitats. As adults, monarch butterflies pollinate many types of wild flowers. However, monarchs will have to wait for federal protection before herbicide use is regulated in their habitats. This is key to saving monarchs from extinction.
"One, we restore a lot of habitat," Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, told the New York Times.
"And two, we try to convince our fellow citizens and particularly our politicians that we have to do something about greenhouse gases."
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
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