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Pandemic Used To Cover For Loosening Crop Poison Regulation

Pandemic Used To Cover For Loosening Crop Poison Regulation

Pandemic Used To Cover For Loosening Crop Poison Regulation2020-05-17PopularResistance.Org

Above photo: Atrazine application. EPA photo.

A Deadly Herbicide Ends Up in Lakes and Rivers, Severely Harming Wildlife.

The Trump EPA wants to reapprove use of a dangerous herbicide.

Trump appointees are hiding behind the COVID-19 pandemic to excuse a herbicide manufacturer from monitoring levels of the poison in Midwest lakes and streams.

The EPA plans to raise the concentration of atrazine allowed in streams and lakes to 15 parts per billion. That is more than four times higher than what the EPA had recommended under the Obama administration. In April, Elissa Reaves, acting director of the herbicide re-evaluation division, suspended monitoring for the rest of the year.

“The public will now have no idea whether dangerous levels of atrazine are reaching rivers and streams throughout the Midwest,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “That’s absurd and reckless.”

Atrazine, which is banned in Europe, often washes into streams and lakes and is one of the most common contaminants of drinking water. It chemically castrates frogs. More than 70 million pounds of atrazine was sprayed in 2016,  mostly to control weeds in cornfields but also on sorghum, sugarcane and other crops.

Syngenta, the Swiss company that is the main manufacturer of atrazine, didn’t report any federal lobbying in 2019. But its former lobbyists include Jeff Sands who took a $99,125 pay cut in 2017 to work for then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as a senior agricultural adviser.

Sands, who left the EPA, received an ethics waiver from Don McGahn, then Trump’s attorney, to participate in agricultural issues, including those he previously lobbied. The waiver was not supposed to include anything relating to Syngenta.

The Swiss company is known for trashing its critics and wielded influence over EPA decisions long before Trump was elected. Syngenta commissioned a psychological profile of Tyrone Hayes, the University of California, Berkeley, professor whose research found atrazine appeared to disrupt the sexual development of frogs.

The EPA’s 2007 and 2012 assessments of atrazine excluded 74 of 75 published laboratory studies on the effects of atrazine on amphibians. The single study it relied on, which found virtually no adverse reproductive impacts even at relatively high doses of atrazine, was funded by Syngenta. Co-author Alan Hosmer was an employee of Syngenta.

The EPA’s ecological risk assessment, done during the Obama administration, repeatedly cites a 2008 paper, funded by Syngenta. The paper about atrazine’s effects on fish, amphibians and reptiles was written by pesticide industry consultant Keith Solomon and colleagues.

Jason Rohr and Krista McCoy, then at the University of South Florida, found that Solomon misrepresented more than 50 of the studies he and his colleagues reviewed with 122 inaccurate and 22 misleading statements. About 96.5% of these inaccurate or misleading statements appeared to benefit Syngenta.

Frogs are an indicator species, meaning that harm to them can show risks to other species. The average decline for amphibian populations is about 3.8% a year. At this rate, some species will disappear in half the habitats they occupy in about 20 years.

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Crypto Firms Establish Messaging Standard to Deal With FATF Travel Rule

A new messaging standard released today is designed to help cryptocurrency firms comply with anti-money laundering regulations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The standard, called IVMS101, defines a uniform model for data that must be exchanged by virtual asset service providers (VASPs) alongside cryptocurrency transactions. The standard will identify the pseudonymous senders and receivers of crypto payments, with such information “traveling” with each transaction.

Getting industry players to agree upon an interoperable data standard is a significant step towards a more regulated crypto space. The standard messaging format now needs to be incorporated into the various solutions being built by VASPs to meet Travel Rule requirements.

Read more: All Global Crypto Exchanges Must Now Share Customer Data, FATF Rules

“I’m pleased to confirm that the working group approved the final text and that the IVMS101 data model standard now exists,” said Siân Jones, convener of the Joint Working Group for InterVASP Messaging Standards.

Unambiguous data allows VASPs to exchange messages in an automated fashion, reducing costs and minimizing risks, the IVMS white paper states. A universal common language, the paper continues, enables beneficiary VASPs to understand and process the required information submitted by originating VASPs.

The standard has now been commended to the Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC), Global Digital Finance (GDF) and International Digital Asset Exchange Association (IDAXA), the three industry bodies that established the joint working group, to formally endorse it, Jones said.

“Since the FATF published the Virtual Asset guidelines in June 2019, the industry has been working hard to comply with the guidelines, but there are challenges,” IDAXA said in an emailed statement. “One of them was establishing a common standard so any Virtual Asset Service Provider can work with any compliance solution vendor with ease. Coming up with the Intervasp Messaging Standard 101 (IVMS101) as a common standard is definitely the first step in the right direction.”

Read more: Inside the Standards Race for Implementing FATF’s Travel Rule

“Our members have worked hard to create this standard and achieve consensus in advance of FATF timelines – a real achievement in such a complex area,” the Chamber of Digital Commerce told CoinDesk in an email.

The updated FATF guidance saw a myriad of proposed technical solutions for dealing with how Travel Rule data can be shared by firms. The InterVASP group’s standard already has the backing of most of the well-known solutions being touted, including CoolBitX’s Sygna Bridge, CipherTrace’s TRISA, Notabene and Securrency (with OpenVASP of Switzerland saying the standard will soon be added to its roadmap).

Despite the coronavirus lockdown, the InterVASP working group has stuck to its proposed deadline: The standard has been released in time for FATF’s one-year review of progress on Travel Rule solutions at its June 2020 plenary meeting

“Frankly, Siân Jones deserves a medal for being able to steer this absolutely bang on time,” said Malcolm Wright, head of the AML Working Group at GDF. “It’s a testament to her professionalism to have been able to do that.”


Having a standard in place removes a big headache for VASPs. Without a simple way for messages to be consistently formatted, firms would have to reconfigure outbound and inbound messages on a continual basis to avoid error, a costly and time-consuming business, especially if handling large transaction volumes.

The sort of wrinkle that could gum up the works is something as seemingly innocuous as the way a date of birth can be interpreted, said Wright. “So, is 12.6.20 the 12th of June or the 6th of December? That’s the simplest example, really.”

Read more: Crypto Exchanges Need Common Messaging to Comply With Travel Rule

Collaboration across the crypto space to get the standard finished in time has been complemented by a helpful and engaging dialogue with regulators, said Wright. 

One of the issues where FATF has shown understanding is the “sunrise period,” Wright said. This is the shift from planning and design to execution (and, ultimately, enforcement by regulators in each country).

“We are coming at it from opposite ends towards the same goal, and we are not quite there yet. So can a VASP that’s licensed somewhere talk to a VASP that’s in an unlicensed jurisdiction?” said Wright. “That’s an interesting challenge. But we have got a really nice dialogue with FATF at the moment talking about the sunrise period.”

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