Beyond Pesticides is a Washington, D.C.-based 501c3 non-profit campaigning, regulatory and advocacy organization founded in 1984 that focuses on replacing commercial pesticides with the organic model of pest control methods and banning all commercial food production technologies involving genetically modified plants and organisms (GMOs). According to the organization’s IRS Form 990 mission statement, it adheres to the social change goal of “advancing a ‘green’ or sustainable economy that embraces the precautionary principle.”
Top ten Beyond Pesticides contributors, ranked by amount:
Beyond Pesticides was incorporated in the District of Columbia on September 24, 1984 by Jay Feldman under the name Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides NCAMP). The organization received its tax exempt ruling from the IRS in 1985. Although many references to NCAMP say it was formed in 1981, it does not appear in any incorporation records until the 1984 Washington, D.C. incorporation documents. The name “NCAMP” did not, itself, disappear from Beyond Pesticides’ IRS Form 990 until 2010.
NCAMP was, unquestionably, the predecessor organization of Beyond Pesticides. According to independent authors analyzing the organization, NCAMP appears to have been formed out of fears that a Reagan-era EPA might dismantle pesticide rules administratively or through legislation. As such alarm prompted dozens of environmental and public interest law organizations of the era, National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides came into being in 1981 as an umbrella organization dedicated to coordinated action between such organizations at both the federal and state levels.
Founder Feldman wrote, “National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP) was founded in 1981 as a broad coalition of 1,100 individuals and groups from health, environmental, labor, farm, consumer and churches who share common concerns about the potential hazards associated with pesticides. The Coalition seeks to focus public attention on the very serious problem of pesticide poisoning and to promote reduced pesticide exposure through alternative pest management strategies. The Coalition also advocates for policies that better protect the public from dangerous pesticide exposures and assists communities and individuals with information on alternative methods of pest control.”
Jay Feldman is the executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Feldman earned a B.A. from Grinnell College (1975) in political science and a Masters in urban and regional planning with a focus on health policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1977). Upon receiving his master’s degree, he worked for the organization Rural America (1977-1981) with farmworkers and small farmers, leading their health issues program and focusing on those health problems associated with pesticide use. Feldman appears to have left Rural America in 1981 to start the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides with a staff of five others, but despite Feldman’s claims, his title is not on record until Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP was incorporated in 1984.
Beyond Pesticides works regularly with the Center for Food Safety; Environmental Working Group; Pesticide Action Network North America; Xerces Society; EarthShare; Combined Federal Campaign; American Bird Conservancy, Beyond Toxics, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, Institute for Fisheries Resources, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Organic Farmers Marketing Association; Bio-Logical Pest Management; Roseland Farms; Kids for Saving Earth Worldwide; PEST Education Project; Pesticide Watch; Children’s Health Environmental Coalition; Horizon Organic Dairy, Inc.; Donaldson-McMahon Family Farms; Lideres Campesinas en California; Kansas Chapter, Sierra Club; Farmworker Justice Fund; Maryland Pesticide Network and others.
Among Feldman’s many NCAMP allies was the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (1977), which campaigned to stop the use of the forestry herbicide 2,4,5-T, used primarily to thin fast-growing alder trees competing with slower-growing Douglas fir species typically used as a timber source.
Initially, NCAP focused its anti-timber pesticides efforts on promulgating a specious claim that 2,3,4-T spray drift caused a number of women to miscarry their pregnancies. These female claimants refused to be medically examined, and a legal battle followed, as chemical manufacturers sued to gain access to the women’s medical records. A panel of 10 “highly qualified” epidemiologists was eventually given access to the medical records, and subsequently ruled that the women’s health profiles contained hereditary and lifestyle factors so serious that 2,45-T was ruled out as a factor in the miscarriages. NCAP suffered a credibility setback as a result.
Since that time, Feldman helped build Beyond Pesticides’ capacity to assist local groups and impact national pesticide policy with more emphasis on lobbying rather than on publicity. He has tracked specific chemical effects, regulatory actions, and pesticide law, building a national reputation. In September 2009, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed him to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), where he completed a 5 year term in January 2015.
Beyond Pesticides is a partner with the Just Label It campaign, which is made up of a broad-based coalition of 460 partner organizations demanding that consumers have the right to know what is in our food. A critical component of the campaign, attorneys from the Center for Food Safety and 22 additional petitioners, including Beyond Pesticides, filed a petition for rulemaking with the FDA in 2011. The petition, calls on the FDA to use its authority to revise existing regulations and require food that is produced with GE ingredients to disclose this information on the label. The Just Label It campaign has already generated over a half-million consumer comments in support of a rule-making petition.