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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biofuels' Category


13
Sep

U.S. Land Use Changes Add Further Strain to Commercial Beekeeping

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2016) Land suitable for commercial beekeepers in the U.S. Northern Great Plains (NGP) is declining rapidly, according to a new study released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS). The region, which supports over 40% of managed honey bee colonies, is quickly replacing suitable pollinator habitat with more and more pesticide-intensive biofuel crops, particularly corn and soybean, as a result of increased crop prices and federal subsidies for biofuels. The concerning trend adds another layer of stress not only to honey bee colonies, but beekeepers whose livelihood depends on the health of their commercial livestock. From early summer to mid-fall, roughly one million honey bee colonies make their way through the Northern Great Plains of North and South Dakota. The area is not usually a stop for pollination services, but a place where beekeepers go to generate a honey crop and improve the health of their colonies. Most of the colonies that summer in the NGP are trucked across the country to pollinate fruiting crops like apples, cherries, melons, and almonds during the winter, or are otherwise moved south to produce packaged bee colonies or queens. According to the USGS study, published in the […]

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05
Jul

EPA Proposes to Reverse Decision to End Azinphos-Methyl Use

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2012) After a 2006 cancellation of uses due to unreasonable risks to farmworker health and the environment, and a 6-year phase out scheduled to conclude this September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a risk-benefit analysis to make a determination whether to keep in place or amend the cancellation order for the organophosphate azinphos-methyl (AZM), citing new information on the economic costs of using alternatives. In 2001, EPA found that insecticides azinphos-methyl (AZM) posed unacceptable risks to farmworkers and announced that 28 crop uses were being canceled, seven crop uses were to be phased-out over four years, and eight crop uses were to be allowed to continue under a “time-limited” registration for another four years. Farmworker advocates challenged that decision in federal court citing that EPA failed to take into account the costs of poisoning workers, exposing children, and polluting rivers and streams. A settlement agreement effectively stayed the legal challenge pending EPA’s reconsideration of the “time limited” uses of AZM. In November 2006, EPA decided that AZM poses unreasonable adverse effects and issued a final decision to cancel AZM, but allowed continued use on some fruit crops (apples, cherries, pears) for six more […]

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03
Aug

Risk Assessment Flaw Downplays Insecticide’s Link to Bee Kills

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2010) A new study shows that due to a flaw in standard risk assessments, which consider toxic effects at fixed exposure times, the risks posed by the neonicotinoid pesticides imidacloprid and thiacloprid are likely to be underestimated. The authors believe that minute quantities of imidicloprid may be playing a much larger role in killing bees over extended periods of time than previously thought. The study, “The significance of the Druckrey—Küpfmüller equation for risk assessment””The toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to arthropods is reinforced by exposure time,” was published online July 23, 2010 in the journal Toxicology. The authors believe that standard risk assessment calculations underestimate toxicity because they do not accurately account for the interplay of time and level of exposure. According the study: The essence of the Druckrey—Küpfmüller equation states that the total dose required to produce the same effect decreases with decreasing exposure levels, even though the exposure times required to produce the same effect increase with decreasing exposure levels. Druckrey and Küpfmüller inferred that if both receptor binding and the effect are irreversible, exposure time would reinforce the effect. The Druckrey—Küpfmüller equation explains why toxicity may occur after prolonged exposure to very low toxicant […]

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01
Oct

Study Shows More Corn for Ethanol Production Hurts Water

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2009) More pesticides and fertilizers used to grow conventional corn would find their way into nearby water sources if ethanol demands lead to planting more acres in corn, according to a Purdue University study. The study of Indiana water sources finds that fields practicing continuous-corn rotations have higher levels of nitrogen, fungicides and phosphorous than corn-soybean rotations. While touted as a green energy source, most corn ethanol is made with genetically modified corn that is routinely sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. To makes matters worse, it’s usually planted year after year, rather than using crop rotation, a basic strategy to reduce pest pressure and soil erosion. Corn ethanol is also inefficient, producing only 1.34 joules of energy for each joule used in production (compared to 8 joules for sugarcane). Furthermore, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (House Climate Bill) sidetracks a proposed EPA regulation that requires U.S. ethanol makers responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from conversion of forests and grasslands overseas to cropland. Big Agribusiness is lobbying for a similar provision in the Senate version, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Results of the new study, “Water Quality Impacts of Corn Production […]

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08
Jan

Reclaiming Our Healthy Future – National Pesticide Forum Update

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2008) Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation, the 26th National Pesticide Forum, will be held March 14-16 at the University of California, Berkeley. Register now to pay the pre-registration rate. James Roberts, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and co-author of Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings, and Jim Riddle, outreach coordinator for the University of Minnesota Organic Ecology program, have recently been added to the program. Previously announced speakers include Arturo Rodriguez (UFW President), Devra Davis, Ph.D. (author and University of Pittsburgh professor of epidemiology) and Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology). Also, actress Kaiulani Lee will perform A Sense of Wonder, her one-woman play based on the life and works of Rachel Carson. Session topics include: Children’s health and public policy; Farmworker justice, organizing and consumer action; Building just and healthy food systems; Power of local activism to influence political change; Pesticides and the secret history of the war on cancer; Skills training sessions; DDT and malaria; Global warming and biofuels; Biomonitoring and pesticide drift; Lawns and landscapes; Managing indoor environments; Water quality and much more. Jim Riddle is outreach […]

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13
Sep

Weighing Pesticide Use in Biofuel Production

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2007) As the debate rages on the impacts of growing plants, including food crops, for biofuel, the environmental impacts of growing practices and energy costs are consistently raised with concern. University of Minnesota scientists, in releasing a report, “Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels,” in the July 15 2007 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say that an analysis of the “full life cycles of soybean biodiesel and corn grain ethanol shows that biodiesel has much less of an impact on the environment” and causes less pesticide pollution in its production. It can be argued that if crops are to be grown for fuel, they should only be grown organically to reduce energy consumption and sequester atmospheric carbon at the highest possible rates (see “The Organic Farming Response to Climate Change“). A September 9, 2007 New York Times article, “Mali’s Farmers Discover A Weed’s Potential Power,” cites a plant found in Mali, called jatropha, that grows under the harshest soil and weather conditions without any pesticides and little fertilization and is an ideal source for biofuel. The author of the Times piece describes the plant with “poisonous black […]

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