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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Aquaculture' Category


03
Oct

Proposal to Restrict Pesticide Use Near CA Schools, Criticized as Weak, Open for Public Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2016) On Friday, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released a rule titled, Pesticide Use Near Schoolsites, that proposes limited restrictions for certain agricultural pesticide applications near schools and child day care facilities. CDPR, whose proposal  has been criticized by advocates as not adequately protective of workers and communities, is accepting public comments on the proposal until November 17, 2016. The  proposed rule, effective October 1, 2017, will require farmers to notify public schools and child day care facilities when “certain pesticide applications made for the production of an agricultural commodity near a school site are planned in the coming year and also a few days prior to the applications.” For pesticides applied via aircraft, airblast sprayer, sprinkler chemigation, and fumigation, there must be a minimum ¼  mile buffer around the school or child day care facility. While the move by CDPR is a step in the right direction, it is not rigorous enough and does not adequately protect the most vulnerable populations from pesticide exposure, according to advocates. The rule does not include private K-12 schools or family day care homes, a move that according to CDPR documents is due to the potential for […]

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16
Feb

Intersex Fish at National Wildlife Refuges Considered for Further Study

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2016) Last Thursday, officials reported that federal scientists for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are recommending follow up studies for a portion of the Wallkill River in Sussex County, NJ, in addition to five other national wildlife refuges in the Northeast that were previously found to contain small-mouth bass with intersex characteristics. A study conducted  by FWS and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) points out that smallmouth and largemouth bass are showing intersex features, but researchers have  not pinpointed the cause. Scientists hope a follow up study will provide answers. Intersex fish and other species are  characterized  by one sex exhibiting traits  of the opposite sex. In the case of the FWS/USGS study, researchers found testicular oocytes ””female eggs found inside male testicles””in male smallmouth and largemouth bass. The source of intersex effects  can be hard to pinpoint, but pesticides are often cited as a cause given that they widely pollute waterways that  fish populate. Those chemicals have properties that disrupt the endocrine system and affect the reproductive system, causing development issues such as testicular oocytes. According to the USGS press release for the study, “Estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals are derived from a variety of […]

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09
Feb

Bayer Refuses to Cancel Insecticide Toxic to Aquatic Life

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2016) Last week, Bayer CropScience reneged on an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the conditionally registered insecticide flubendiamide if  the agency  received  data that  identified adverse ecological effects. Based on the data, EPA found that the chemical causes “unreasonable adverse effects” to benthic organisms living in sediment near agricultural fields. Bayer’s defiance in the face of EPA’s finding  points to  a fundamental  weakness in  the agency’s conditional pesticide registration process, which allows toxic chemicals onto the market without a complete and comprehensive assessment  of their  potential  harm, in this case to  wildlife and the vital ecosystem services they provide. In 2008, EPA granted Bayer a “conditional” registration for flubendiamide, a classification that allows a new pesticide to be registered and used in the field, despite outstanding data points on its toxicological impact. In this case, original data submitted to EPA by Bayer showed concern over the effect of the chemical and its breakdown product on freshwater benthic invertebrates, species such as crustaceans and aquatic insects that  live in stream sediment and provide important ecosystem services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. In response, rather than declining to proceed with registration […]

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13
Jan

WA Oyster Growers Request Approval to Spray Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Bay, Despite Public Opposition

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2016) Last Friday, the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) in Washington State sent a 71-page request to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) asking state regulators to approve  a permit to  spray neonicotinoid insecticides  that are having devastating effects on the ecosystems worldwide. Yet, WGHOGA is pursuing a single-minded approach to chemically control the shrimp that are hurting their oyster crops, while using chemicals that the preponderance of science finds cause ecosystem imbalance. In  April 2015, much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, Ecology approved a permit for the use of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) to combat a growing native population of burrowing shrimp that threatens  valuable shellfish (oyster) beds in Willapa Bay and Grays  Harbor. But, with a  nationwide public outcry, the permit was withdrawn in May 2015. Ecology sent KING 5, a local Washington news agency, the below statement last Friday: “We received the permit application this morning from the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association to use imidacloprid on shellfish beds. It will take some time for us to review the 71-page application. On May 3 (2015) the Oyster Growers Association asked Ecology to withdraw their permit. Since then, […]

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18
Dec

Herbicides and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Decline of Smallmouth Bass

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2015) One of the most likely causes for the population decline of smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, concludes a multi-agency, multi-year study of one of the most complex river systems in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), along with nearly 50 participants and six partner agencies, released findings on Monday that narrow the likely causes from an initial field of 14 candidates to two. PFBC also found that pathogens and parasites are probable contributing factors. Following a smallmouth bass (SMB) population crash in 2005, and additional observed maladies, such as tumors and lesions on SMB, the team used ground-breaking monitoring strategies to collect more than 30,000 water quality records annually, along with review of existing research to isolate the possible causes keeping young-of-the-year (YOY) SMB from growing to adulthood. The study provides evidence to what Beyond Pesticides suspected back in May, when PFBC confirmed that a rare malignant tumor was found for the first time on a SMB caught by an angler back in the summer of 2014. Though the findings at the time did not point to a specific […]

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01
Dec

Genetically Engineered Salmon without Labeling Approved by FDA

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2015) Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, without a labeling requirement, a genetically engineered (GE) salmon designed to grow faster and come to market quicker than other farmed salmon. The fish, dubbed AquAdvantage by its developer, Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm AquaBounty, has been the center of considerable controversy as it represents the first GE animal approved for commercial sale and human consumption. While FDA has declared the fish safe to eat, and AquaBounty argues the fish will help feed the world, opponents stress that the potential adverse effects of the technology have not been properly vetted, and consumers will have no way to tell whether the salmon they purchase at the store is the engineered AquAdvantage product. Draft guidelines released by FDA when the salmon was approved do not require retailers to inform consumers that the fish is GE. Instead, the agency provided examples of voluntary statements, such as “genetically engineered,” or “This salmon patty was made from Atlantic salmon produced using modern biotechnology,” that producers  can consider using. The FDA policy makes it virtually impossible for shoppers wishing to avoid the GE fish to make an informed decision at the point of […]

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23
Nov

Pesticides Bound to Particles and Not Detectable in Water Harm Aquatic Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2015) Commonly-used pesticides can impact aquatic species over multiple weeks, even when chemicals are no longer detectable in water nor  monitored by regulators, according to new research. The study, titled A long-term assessment of pesticide mixture effects on aquatic invertebrate communities,  published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, investigates the long-term effects on aquatic invertebrate communities of commonly-used insecticides: two pyrethroids (permethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin) and an organophosphate (chlorpyrifos). Pesticide applications were based on environmentally relevant concentrations and lethal concentrations (a concentration required to kill a certain percentage of animals tested) ranging from 10% (LC10) to 50% (LC50). Researchers made repeat applications in order to mimic runoff events in a multiple grower or homeowner watershed. The results indicate that insecticide mixtures continue to impact natural systems over multiple weeks, even when bound to particles and no longer detectable in water. Combinations of indirect and direct effects caused consequences across the food chain. Pyrethroids rapidly dissipated from the water column, whereas chlorpyrifos was detectable even six weeks after application. “The effects we observed indicate that many species were affected at a sublethal level,” said Simone Hasenbein, Ph.D., lead author of the study tells Phys.org. “Thus, populations exposed […]

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07
May

Tests Confirm Rare Cancer in Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2015) The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has confirmed that a rare malignant tumor was found on a smallmouth bass caught in the Susquehanna River by an angler late last summer. The finding was confirmed by two independent laboratory tests, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Michigan State University.  Although it only represents one individual fish from the overall population, it provides additional evidence —which includes the prevalence of intersex fish discovered last summer”” that the health of the fish community residing in the river is being compromised, according to PFBC executive director John Arway. Though the findings do not point to a specific cause for the cancer found on the smallmouth bass (SMB), agricultural pesticides, particularly endocrine disrupting chemicals, that have been found in the watershed, likely play a part in the rampant disease issues in SMB in the Susquehanna River. “As we continue to study the river, we find young-of-year and now adult bass with sores, lesions and more recently a cancerous tumor, all of which continue to negatively impact population levels and recreational fishing,” Mr. Arway said. “The weight-of-evidence continues to build a […]

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29
Apr

Toxic Imidacloprid To Be Sprayed on Oyster Beds in Washington Bays

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2015) Much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) approved a permit for the use of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) to combat a growing native population of burrowing shrimp that threatens valuable shellfish (oyster) beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington state. Imidacloprid is known to be toxic to bees but is also toxic to aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. The shellfish industry is important to the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated $270 million or more into the region’s economy, and providing jobs for many. Washington’s tidelands, especially those in Willapa Bay, have been particularly productive for more than 100 years. However, according to shellfish growers, the burrowing shrimp (ghost shrimp, Neotrypaea californiensis,  and mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis) undermines the industry. The creatures burrow into shellfish beds, making the beds too soft for shellfish cultivation. Their burrowing churns the tidelands into a sticky muck, smothering the oysters. After several years of deliberations and studies, Ecology identified imidacloprid as its  preferred choice for eradicating the shrimp. According to the agency, imidacloprid disrupts the burrowing shrimps’ […]

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20
Feb

Changes to Canadian Aquaculture Rule Raises Pesticide Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2015) A broad-based coalition is urging Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put a stop to proposed changes to federal aquaculture regulations, citing damage to the environment and existing businesses. The proposed amendments to the federal Fisheries Act would exempt the aquaculture industry from provisions that “prohibit the release of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish.” Coalition members are worried that the changes will result in pesticides routinely being dumped into the Bay of Fundy,  located between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and remove Environment Canada’s role in aquaculture activities, said spokeswoman Maria Recchia, the executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen’s Association. Aquaculture, which refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of aquatic organisms such as fish, shellfish, and plants, provides half of the world’s seafood. According to  Food and Water Watch, offshore aquaculture follows an industrial agriculture model which grows thousands of animals in a confined environment. For fish, however, this confined space is in the ocean, meaning all of the waste products from the operation flow directly into the ocean. This includes excess feed and chemicals that are used, such as antibiotics and pesticides, to treat or prevent […]

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05
Sep

Study Finds EPA Favors Industry in Pesticide Safety Evaluations

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2014) A study published in a scientific journal finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) favors the chemical  industry when making determinations on pesticide safety. Under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA conducts  risk assessments to determine whether a new or existing chemical is eligible for registration or reregistration and therefore able to enter or remain on the market. The study’s conclusions raise serious concerns for both environmental and human health protection because of EPA’s practice of inviting bias and underestimating potential harm. The study, which will be in the October issue of BioScience, highlights the case of atrazine, an herbicide that has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and reproductive effects. In their study, Michelle Boone, Ph.D., of Miami University, and her colleagues find that most pesticide toxicity tests used in risk assessments are conducted by pesticide manufacturers themselves. The authors contend that this can result in conflicts of interest. Additionally, strict methodological criteria, such as the types of containers in which exposed specimens are raised, often mean that potentially relevant studies are barred from EPA’s assessment process. The agency reassessed atrazine  based on a sole, manufacturer-funded study, finding […]

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09
Jun

Scientist Warns of Ecological Effects Associated with Lawn Care Pesticide Runoff

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2014) A recent talk given by Donald Weston, PhD, a professor emeritus in UC Berkeley’s Department of Integrative Biology, to a community group in San Jose, California warned residents about the dangers that  lawn care insecticides present to  local aquatic life. The talk focused on the problems synthetic pyrethroids and fipronil can have on Hyalella azteca and Chironomus dilutes. Increasing levels of pesticide runoff in local stream systems have not only led to decreased populations of these aquatic crustaceans, but also populations that have become resistant to pesticides. Aquatic invertebrates are extremely sensitive to pesticide runoff and different states around the country have struggled with creating pesticide regulations that foster a healthy aquatic ecosystem. A good way to reduce pesticide runoff is to transition away from toxic land care methods and adopt organic practices. Hyalella crustaceans, a tiny shrimp-like animal, are hypersensitive to pyrethroids, which are a class of insecticides used by professional lawn care companies and found in common products like Raid and mixed with fertilizer products like Scotts Turf Builder under the name SummerGuard. Chironomus dilutes, a red worm-like invertebrate, is sensitive to fipronil, which is used to kill fleas on dogs and cats […]

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09
Sep

Take Action! Organic Comment Period Now Open Until October 1

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2013) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is now accepting public comments until October 1, 2013 for its upcoming fall meeting, to be held October 22-24, 2013 at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY  (140 North Fourth St., Louisville, KY, 40202). Beyond Pesticides has compiled a list of the issues before the Board, which can be viewed on the Keeping Organic Strong website. We strongly encourage all those concerned about the future of organic food to review the issues and submit a public comment to the NOSB. The 15 member Board meets twice a year to review substances petitioned for allowance on the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances” in organic production and processing. Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong website provides a number of resources for people to participate in the organic review process alongside the Board. Note that throughout the week, we will be updating the page with sample comments, Beyond Pesticides’ full comments to the Board, and comments from key stakeholders in the organic community. Written comments on the proposals can be submitted until 11:59 pm on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at regulations.gov. You can also attend the NOSB meeting in person […]

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03
Jun

Study Finds GE Salmon Able to Cross-Breed with Brown Trout

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2013) A new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, found that genetically engineered (GE) AquaBounty AquaAdvantage salmon can successfully cross-breed with brown trout, a closely related species. GE salmon, created by the biotech company AquaBounty, are designed to reach maturity faster than their wild counterparts and would be the first GE animal approved for human consumption in the United States. As a result of this study, the authors “…suggest that interspecific hybridization be explicitly considered when assessing the environmental consequences should transgenic animals escape to nature.” The study not only found that GE salmon can cross-breed with brown trout, but also that their GE hybrid offspring could outgrow wild salmon, non-GE hybrid offspring, and even GE salmon. The GE hybrids also out-competed wild salmon and GE salmon in simulated stream environments, further stunting the growth of other fish. According to Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, “This study highlights yet another ecological risk of these hazardous genetically engineered fish. The FDA’s [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] attempt to approve these gene altered fish without even analyzing these irreversible impacts on our native salmon and trout populations is unlawful and a gross […]

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22
May

Seafood Company Commits To Limit Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2013) Norwegian seafood production company, Marine Harvest, has committed to certify its salmon farms by 2020  to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Salmon Standard, with the condition that they  begin tightening restrictions of pesticide use and move from caged systems in coastal waters to closed containment systems. As the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon, responsible for 25% to 30% of the global salmon and trout production the move marks an important shift toward sustainable production of their fish products. The ASC Salmon Standard, an accreditation scheme developed and promoted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), requires members to  diminish the use of toxic chemicals, address sourcing of feed ingredients, diminish the transmission of disease to wild salmon populations, control the escape of farmed salmon, reduce the use of antibiotics and genetically engineered products, and finaly address the labor issues on salmon farms. As of now Marine Harvest has only committed to accredit its fish farms within the United Kingdom, although they also produce fish in Norway, Canada, the Faroe Islands, Ireland and Chile. The company’s move follows on the heels of recent media attention that revealed the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) had  found up […]

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27
Feb

Pesticide Makers Win Bid to Overturn Pesticide Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2013) Last week a U.S. Court of Appeals found that pesticide restrictions to protect endangered salmon and steelhead proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in its Biological Opinion (BiOp) were “arbitrary and capricious,” supporting Dow AgroSciences LLC and other pesticide makers’ claims that the restrictions were based on “unsupported assumptions and conclusions.” The BiOp concluded that the pesticides chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon, three of the most highly toxic pesticides still in use, pose risks to salmon, steelhead and their habitat. In collaboration with NMFS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with implementation of any recommended pesticide restrictions to satisfy the mandate under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, to date, EPA has not taken any actions to implement any of the proposed measures to protect endangered salmon and steelhead, in part due to challenges from industry. Dow AgroScience LLC, Makhteshim Agan of North America, Inc., and Cheminova, Inc. USA first filed a suit in 2009 (Dow Agrosciences v. National Marine Fisheries ), challenging the NMFS’ 2008 BiOp to restrict  chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon as being based on numerous unsupported assumptions and conclusions, and faulty analyses. The U.S. District Court […]

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03
Jan

FDA Moves Forward on Genetically Engineered Salmon

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2012) On December 21, just as everyone was gearing up for the holidays, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its release of a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact on the genetically engineered (GE) AquaBounty AquaAdvantage salmon. The FDA action is widely viewed as confirmation that the Obama Administration is prepared to approve shortly the first GE animal intended for human consumption in the face of widespread opposition from the public. “It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. “The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value; it’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. FDA’s decision is premature and misguided.” AquaBounty claims that the company’s process for raising GE fish is safer than traditional aquaculture, yet documents released by the Canadian government show that a new strain of Infectious Salmon Anaemia, the deadly fish flu which has been devastating fish stocks around the world, contaminated their Canadian production site. This information was not included in the FDA’s review and hidden from […]

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11
Jun

Petitioners Press FDA to Complete Environmental Impact Statement on GE Salmon

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2012) More than one year after petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to complete a mandatory environmental impact statement on the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) fish intended for human consumption, Earthjustice has submitted a letter on behalf of its co-petitioners urging the agency to meet its obligation promptly. The letter points out that FDA is prohibited from acting on the application to raise and release into commerce genetically engineered salmon until the agency has completed a comprehensive environmental risk assessment on the fish. Earthjustice filed the petition on May 25, 2011 along with Ocean Conservancy, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, the Center for International Environmental Law, and Greenpeace. In addition to reminding FDA of its obligation to complete the risk assessment, the petitioners also ask the agency to improve its process for reviewing these kinds of applications to commercialize GE animals to address environmental threats and public concerns at a much earlier stage. FDA has held off on taking decisive action on the application from Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, which has been seeking approval to sell its GE salmon product in the U.S. for more than a decade. […]

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11
May

Private Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard Released

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2012) The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) has released the final version of the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard, a non-binding system for certifying farmed fish outside of official Canadian organic standards. The final standard is a revised form of a draft standard first proposed in 2010, which was subject to severe criticism from environmental advocates. The standard has been developed independently of Canadian organic standards for agriculture and is not currently included in official government regulations regarding organic agriculture. The release comes less than two weeks before the U.S. National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet to discuss, among other topics, the ongoing process of developing a standard for organic aquaculture in the United States. The new standard was developed by under the auspices of the Canadian National Standards Board and is purely voluntary. In Canada, as in the U.S., fish are are explicitly excluded from federal organic regulations. This means that there can be no official, government-approved organic fish in either country currently. However, this also means that there is nothing stopping private entities from creating their own standard for certifying fish as “organic” according to whatever definition they choose. The fish can then be […]

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16
Jun

New Rule on Conventional Aquaculture Raises Concern for Environment, Organic Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2011) The Department of Commerce, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service, announced late last week a final aquaculture policy which would ease restrictions to make it easier to farm fish in federal waters, drawing criticism from environmental groups due to the harmful environmental impacts of raising fish in pens in open waters. According to Food and Water Watch, offshore aquaculture follows an industrial agriculture model which grows thousands of animals in a confined environment. For fish, however, this confined space is in the ocean, meaning all of the waste products from the operation flow directly into the ocean. This includes excess feed and chemicals that are used, such as antibiotics and pesticides, to treat or prevent disease that occurs when fish are in confinement. Another major concern is the possibility of escaped farmed fish, which can compete with and interbreed with wild fish. Though the Department of Commerce and NOAA are pushing these new policies as a way to “meet the growing demand for healthy seafood,” factory fish farming, as Food and Water Watch points out, is primarily focused on carnivorous fish including salmon and tuna. These carnivorous fish require a […]

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