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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Litigation' Category


10
Jun

Connecticut Bill Would Ban Pesticides on Public Playgrounds, But Allow Use on High School Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2015) Activists and concerned parents have been working for years in Connecticut to extend the current prohibition of pesticide use on daycare centers and K-8 school grounds to include high schools, athletic fields, municipal parks and town land. Now, the state Senate approved legislation to ban pesticides from public playgrounds, but there will still be no extension of the ban on high school lawns or fields under the bill language. Activists claim a partial victory and vow to continue working on a full ban, despite heavy opposition from industry forces. Connecticut was the first state to prohibit the use of toxic pesticides at K-8 schools and daycare centers, but high schools, athletic fields, parks and playgrounds were exempted from the ban. On May 27, 2015, a bipartisan bill (SB366) extending the ban to public playgrounds passed the Senate 34-2 and now goes to the House. The new legislation would extend the ban to municipal playgrounds, except for situations that the authors say could threaten human health, such as hornet nests or tick infestations. The bill also calls for parents of high school students to be promptly notified by email of any pesticide applications at schools. Additionally, […]

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05
Jun

Congress Continues Attacks on Clean Water Act Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, June 05, 2015) A new federal bill was introduced Wednesday that, if passed, would undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to issue Clean Water Act permits for pesticide spraying over waterways. Titled the Sensible Environmental Protection Act  and introduced by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), this new bill would reverse a 2009 federal court decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA that directed EPA to require permits from applicators who spray over “navigable waters,” as outlined in the Clean Water Act (CWA). The bill’s authors claim that the need for water permits is duplicative, given that pesticide applicators also comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the law that requires applicators to follow instructions on pesticide labels. “This issue is a prime example of an unnecessary, duplicative federal regulation impacting a variety of stakeholders in Idaho and across the nation that must be fixed,” Senator Crapo said in a statement.  “Our rural communities are already under a substantial amount of financial strain and regulatory pressure and are looking to Congress for much-needed relief.” Contrary to  Senator  Crapo’s claims, the  CWA permit serves as a valuable tool that lets authorities know […]

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03
Jun

California Regulators to Strengthen Pesticide Restrictions Near Schools

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2015) After years of campaigning by local activists and a lawsuit filed by parents citing discriminatory practices from policies that led to disproportionate exposure of Latino children to pesticides, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) will now seek to gather input from stakeholders to determine what measures are appropriate to enhance protection of California’s schoolchildren. Given that Latino children are more likely to attend schools near areas with the highest use of pesticides of concern, and California’s pesticide use has actually increased over recent years, the state will need strong restrictive policies to provide any meaningful protections for school children. According to CDPR, the agency will hold five  workshops from May 28 – June 9 2015 to gather input that will later help craft a statewide regulation on  pesticide use near schools, with a focus  on improving school pesticide notification procedures and reducing the risk of exposure. In California, many schools have been built on prime agricultural land next to farm operations. While there are currently state regulations on the use of individual pesticides, CDPR’s regulatory framework for restricted pesticides also allows for the establishment of additional rules to address local conditions. However, existing rules […]

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02
Jun

Federal Judge Upholds Ban on GE Crops in Oregon County

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2015) A federal judge released a ruling Friday rejecting a request by two alfalfa farms to overturn the ban on GE crops in Jackson County, Oregon. In his decision, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke found the ban on GE crops is not preempted by the state’s Right to Farm Act, thereby allowing the ordinance to become effective on June 5. The ordinance, which bans the cultivation, production and distribution of GE crops within the county passed overwhelmingly last May with 66 percent support. This decision is an important victory for farmers of organic and non-genetically engineered crops, who constantly struggle with the threat of GE contamination. “We have always felt this was a strong case,” explained Tom Buchele, attorney with Earthrise Law Center, “but it was very encouraging to get such a strong and well-written opinion that affirms what we have argued since the beginning: communities have the ability under the Right to Farm Act to protect traditional agricultural crops from contamination from GMOs.” Magistrate Judge Clarke rejected the legal challenge by two GE alfalfa growers, Schulz Family Farms and James and Marilyn Frink, who claimed that the Jackson County GE crop ban violated Oregon’s Right […]

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26
May

Study Shows Neonicotinoid Pesticide Has Devastating Effect on Termites Due to Eusocial Behavior, Similar to Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2015) A study led by Purdue University Entomology Professor Michael Scharf, Ph.D. finds that small doses of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, can halt the normal functioning of termite behavior, leaving colonies vulnerable to disease and eventual death. While this effect may be celebrated by the pesticide industry as a victory for termite control, it has serious implications for the use of imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid pesticides on all eusocial insects, such as ants and bees. Eusocial insects thrive as a colony, working, living and sometimes even fighting diseases as one organism, rather than as many individuals existing together. Termites, specifically, exhibit a remarkable resistance to many diseases because they engage in social grooming, clearing pathogens off of one another. Other examples of eusociality can be found in ant and bee colonies. Ant colonies create foraging trails and engage in cooperative transport, where they create long chains of ant individuals to form a whole assembly line to transport food back to the colony and work as one to carry large prey that would not be otherwise attainable. Honeybee colonies send out foragers to report back with the location of plentiful food sources so that other bees know […]

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19
May

Denver Pushes Back Against Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2015) Last week in Denver, Colorado a U.S. District Court judge handed down a preliminary decision that may  dramatically alter how marijuana is grown across the state. On Friday, Judge John Madden sided with the Denver Department of Environmental Health (DDOH), refusing to lift a quarantine that has been keeping tens of thousands of marijuana plants off the market since March over suspected use of certain pesticides. In the absence of federal regulations governing pesticide use on marijuana plants, as highlighted in a report written by Beyond Pesticides this March, the state-level decisions coming out of Colorado on this issue have the potential to set important precedents for pesticide regulation and pot production in other states that have legalized marijuana. The plaintiff, marijuana producer Organic Greens, took the fight to court to ask a judge to determine whether Denver health officials and state agriculture inspectors have the right to quarantine and test marijuana they believe has been improperly contaminated with certain pesticides. On March 25, DDOH found “sufficient evidence that marijuana plants or marijuana product on the [Organic Greens] premises may have been contaminated by pesticides that have been determined by the Colorado Department of Agriculture […]

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18
May

International Treaty Bans Pentachlorophenal, U.S. Continues Use on Utility Poles and Railroad Ties

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2015) Delegates from more than 90 countries took the unprecedented step of voting last week for a global ban on  pentachlorophenol (penta) — a proven toxic pesticide and contaminant found  in wildlife and human biomonitoring studies worldwide. The historic vote came at the combined meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions — which usually make decisions by consensus — after India repeatedly blocked action. The U.S. is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, which provides the framework to moving persistent organic pollutants out of commerce. During the meeting, India surprisingly rejected the findings of the Stockholm Convention’s own scientific expert committee in which it participated. Switzerland triggered the voting procedure — the first in the history of the convention. Ninety-four countries voted in favor of  global prohibition of pentachlorophenol; two opposed; and eight countries abstained. “We commend the global community for this important decision which will help ensure that the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic and the traditional foods on which they depend are protected  against toxic pentachlorophenol,” said Pamela Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The delegates of the Stockholm Convention also supported international bans on two other  industrial chemicals that harm […]

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13
May

Montgomery MD Councilmembers Ask County Hospitals to Ban Landscape Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2015) In a letter sent this week, two Montgomery County Councilmembers are requesting that hospitals in the county assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily agreeing to eliminate their use on hospital grounds. The letter states that this step  would help to reduce pesticide exposure for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents, and would increase awareness in the  community of pesticides’  potential harmful effects. Currently, Montgomery County is considering a bill that would limit the non-essential pesticide use on county property. On Monday, Council President George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, and Councilmember Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, wrote to the leaders of the five organizations that operate hospitals in Montgomery County and asked them to voluntarily stop using pesticides on the grounds of their respective facilities. The text of the letter can be found here. In Monday’s press releases from the their’ offices,  Councilmembers Leventhal and Berliner said, “We are writing today to ask that hospitals in our County assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily […]

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12
May

Kaua’i Activists Take Fight to Syngenta’s Swiss Headquarters, Residents Win Damages from DuPont Pioneer

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2015) Last week Kaua’i County Councilmember Gary Hooser returned from agrichemical giant Syngenta’s shareholder meeting in Basel, Switzerland, where he addressed the company and its stakeholders on  the corporation’s lawsuit against the  small Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. The Councilmember indicates that, although the company is unlikely to meet his request to drop its lawsuit against Ordinance 960, which generally creates buffer zones prohibiting pesticide use around schools, hospitals, and parks, the trip overall was a success. “Our main purpose was one of education and information, to tell our story in the home city of Syngenta, and we were greeted with open arms and really managed to get the word out,” Mr. Hooser said to The Garden Isle on Monday. VIDEO: See Councilmember Hooser’s speech to Syngenta: Part 1 | Part 2 (Note: Credit and thanks to Kauai activist Fern Rosenstiel for filming this video despite attempts by Syngenta to suppress her ability to do so.) In a related matter, it  was announced earlier this week that  a federal court awarded over $500,000 to 15 Kaua’i residents who launched a  lawsuit (separate from the one above) against another agrichemical company on the island, DuPont Pioneer. Residents won […]

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11
May

Toxic Chemicals and Oil Byproducts Found In Treated Irrigation Water

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2015) Oil giant Chevron has been helping farmers in Kern County, CA find a solution to raising crops during the ongoing drought — but it may cause long-term health effects. The county is using treated oil field wastewater from the corporation to irrigate crops. As of now, the government only requires limited testing of treated wastewater, checking for naturally occurring toxins rather than screening for chemicals used in current oil-extraction processes. Legislation was passed last year that  requires oil companies to identify for  the state the chemicals they use in the oil-extraction process, but the Central Valley water authority, which regulates the water recycling program, gave producers until June 15 to report their results. To pick up the slack in the meantime, the advocacy group Water Defense, founded by actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo, collected samples of the treated irrigation water. The group works to promote access to clean water by testing local supplies and documenting contamination, and their findings indicated extremely high levels of oil, acetone and methylene chloride, a potential carcinogen, in the treated irrigation water. Beyond Pesticides has investigated treated wastewater from homes and residential areas. This research indicates that treated wastewater […]

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30
Apr

Vermont Wins Legal Challenge to Its GE Labeling Law

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2015) On Monday, a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Vermont found that the state’s genetically engineered food (GE) labeling law, Act 120, is constitutional under the First Amendment, and thus rejected the motion to stop its implementation. The legal challenge  was brought by the same industrial food companies  —Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and National Association of Manufacturers  — that  had poured money into defeating the measure, before it overwhelmingly passed in the state legislature. The judge also dismissed a number of the plaintiffs’ claims, including assertions that the law violates the commerce clause and was expressly preempted by federal law. Read the full text of the decision here. Andrea Stander, executive director of Rural Vermont noted, “This decision by the federal court is a strong validation of the three long years that Vermonters worked tirelessly to pass the GMO Food Labeling Bill. We are one step closer to securing our right to know if GMOs are in our food.” Despite overwhelming support for  the passage by the state legislature last year, Act 120, which was the first of its kind in the nation, was met […]

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22
Apr

EPA’s Expansion of 2,4-D Enlist Duo Challenged

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2015) A coalition of conservation, food safety, and public health groups filed a motion Monday challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to expand the use of “Enlist Duo” on genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean crops to nine additional states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Enlist Duo, which contains the toxic herbicide, 2,4-D, was approved by EPA to be used on 2,4-D-resistant crops, despite concerns for human and environmental contamination. The motion was filed in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety on behalf of Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. This motion builds on the coalition’s earlier challenge of Enlist Duo, which already includes six Midwestern states where EPA previously first approved the herbicide’s use on GE corn and soybean crops. Another legal challenge cites EPA’s  failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the impact of the herbicide on two endangered species —the whooping crane and the Indiana bat— with the approval of Enlist Duo for […]

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15
Apr

Groups Sue USDA for Failure to Seek Public Comment on Organic Compost Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2015)””The Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow the law in making a substantial rule change to the USDA organic standard. At issue is the contaminated compost guidance released by USDA, which weakens the long-standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. The plaintiff organizations are jointly represented by legal counsel at the Crag Law Center and CFS. The filing follows on the heels of a lawsuit filed last week  by 15 farm, consumer and certifier organizations with a similar procedural challenge to a  rule change to the organic sunset process, which regulates synthetic chemical exceptions in organic production. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. According to Ralph Bloemers, staff attorney for the Crag Law Center, “The new guidance radically changes organic requirements, allowing organic producers to use compost materials treated with synthetic pesticides.” The USDA made this rule without the required rule-making process, usurping the public’s right to ensure […]

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26
Mar

EPA Agrees to Regulate Novel Nanotechnology Pesticides after Legal Challenge

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2015) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to regulate novel nanomaterial pesticides as a result of a lawsuit filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS) and joined by Beyond Pesticides in December. In 2008, a coalition of more than 13 organizations filed a legal petition requesting, among other things, that EPA recognize the risks associated with a growing class of nano-silver consumer products and regulate them as new pesticides. After EPA had failed to respond to the petition for six years, in December 2014 some of the petitioner groups sued the agency to force it to respond. That lawsuit succeeded on Friday, with EPA issuing a 23-page response. “We are gratified that EPA has now fundamentally acknowledged that, with regard to both the legal and scientific evidence, nano-silver antimicrobial products must be regulated as new pesticides,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety. “This is an important step in safeguarding the public.” Nanotechnology is a platform technology for manipulating materials at the atomic and molecular level; manufactured nanomaterials are so small that they cannot be seen with an ordinary microscope. Yet, “nano” means more than just tiny; it means materials that have […]

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24
Mar

Yet Again, Congress Attacks Clean Water Act Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2015) Last week, to the dismay of health and environmental advocates, the House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed the latest version of the inaccurately titled “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015” (H.R. 897), which would nullify regulations that require pesticide applicators to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA) before applying pesticides on or near surface waters. The legislation also amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide that is registered under FIFRA. Generally, it means that pesticide applicators can discharge pesticides into waterways with no EPA oversight under the the standards of the CWA and the permitting process, which takes into account local conditions that are not addressed under FIFRA. The  CWA permit lets authorities know what is sprayed and when it is sprayed, so that the public may know what chemicals are used in their waterways and the potential dangers to sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Existing pesticide regulations under FIFRA do not achieve these protections and, contrary to the assertions made by supporters of the bill, most agricultural pesticide applications are exempt from […]

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19
Mar

Final Suit Routing Genetically Engineered Crops and Related Practices from Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2015) A federal court ruled Monday against the use of neonicotinoid insecticides linked with destruction of bee colonies and other beneficial insects in national wildlife refuges in the Midwest region.  The ruling caps a legal campaign to end the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops and other industrial agricultural practices on national wildlife refuges across the country. The federal lawsuit was filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Sierra Club, and Beyond Pesticides. The suit focused on farming contracts for five refuges in four Midwestern states (IL, IA, MN and MO) and sought to force the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), which operates refuges, to stop these practices until it completes rigorous analyses of their environmental impacts. Beset by this litigation, this past July FWS decided that it will phase out the use of GE crops to feed wildlife and ban neonicotinoid insecticides from all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016.  This new policy still allows for case-by-case exceptions. In the March 16, 2015 ruling, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered: “By no later than APRIL 15, 2015, Defendants shall file a Notice indicating the extent to which neonicotinoid pesticides […]

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16
Mar

Bayer Attempt to Silence Critics of Its Bee-Poisonous Pesticides Rejected by Judge

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2015) Last week, a judge in Duesseldorf Regional Court ruled that the German branch of Friends of the Earth (BUND) has a right to speak out against chemical company giant Bayer CropScience’s neonicotinoid pesticide, thiacloprid, regarding its potential danger to bees. The court considered the allegations put forth by BUND to be a form of free speech, a protected right. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides, affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key issue in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sub-lethal exposure causing changes in bee reproduction, navigation and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites and other diseases, leading to devastating bee losses. Thiacloprid is one of the seven most commonly used neonicotinoids. It is used to control sucking and biting insects in cotton, rice, vegetables, pome fruit, sugar beet, potatoes and ornamentals. Low doses of neonicotinoids are considered highly […]

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10
Mar

U.S. Senator Calls for Suspension of Pentachlorophenol, Used to Treat Utility Poles

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2015) U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) yesterday called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday to immediately investigate the specific use of pentachlorophenol  (penta or PCP), a toxic wood preservative, to treat  utility poles throughout Long Island and urged  Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Long Island to immediately suspend further use of this chemical until a  federal review  is complete. PSEG has been installing new, chemically-treated utility poles throughout the Towns of North Hempstead and East Hampton. In his press  release, Senator Schumer expresses  serious concern about penta’s  health risks to utility workers, adults and children and its ability to  move  into water over the long-term as the chemical leaches from the poles. The Senator also notes that a private firm has conducted a study based on a very limited sample size that does not consider long-term risks as the pole decomposes and further leaches toward groundwater. EPA, which is responsible for evaluating penta’s health and environmental risk, has noted public health concerns related to the chemical when ingested or inhaled, including  neurological, respiratory, kidney and immune system effects. On Long Island, 95,000 of PSEG’s 324,000 utility poles have been treated with penta. […]

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04
Mar

Appeals Court to Hear Case on EPA’s Registration of Bee-Toxic Chemical

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2015) The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case brought by beekeepers challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a toxic pesticide known to be toxic to bees. In 2013, the beekeepers filed suit against the agency, citing that the new chemical, sulfoxaflor, as further endangering bees and beekeeping and noting that their concerns were not properly addressed by EPA before registration was granted. Sulfoxaflor is a sub-class of the neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to global bee declines. The Court has agreed to hear the case on April 14, 2015. The case, Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA, which requests changes to EPA’s product label for sulfoxaflor, was first filed July 2013. The petitioners include the Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Honey Producers Association, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas Smith. The beekeeper groups are represented by Earthjustice. The case is one of a number of pending legal cases on EPA’s pesticide decisions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including one submitted March 2013 by Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Food Safety, beekeepers, […]

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04
Mar

Over 4 Million People Press Obama to Protect Bees

Congress heeds call to action and introduces legislation as pressure mounts on White House Task Force to issue meaningful recommendations March 4, 2015 (Washington, DC)””A coalition of beekeepers, farmers, business leaders, environmental and food safety advocates rallied in front of the White House and delivered more than 4 million petition signatures today calling on the Obama administration to put forth strong protections for bees and other pollinators. This action anticipates the Pollinator Health Task Force recommendations, expected later this month. The task force, announced by the White House this past June, is charged with improving pollinator health through new agency regulations and partnerships. The assembled groups demand that the recommendations include decisive action on rampant use of neonicotinoids, a class of systemic insecticides scientists say are a driving factor in bee declines. The rally coincided with both a D.C. metro ad campaign and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Conyers’s (D-MI) reintroduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which would suspend the use of four of the most toxic neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a full review of their safety. Representative Blumenauer, said, “Pollinators are not only vital to a sustainable environment, but key to a stable […]

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03
Mar

Over 125 Groups Urge President Obama to Protect Bees and Other Pollinators from Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2015) Over 125 conservation, beekeeping, food safety, religious, ethnic and farming advocacy groups are urging President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take swift and meaningful action to protect honey bees and other pollinators from toxic pesticides. Groups, including Beyond Pesticides, raised their voice through a letter sent in advance of a pending report from the White House Pollinator Task Force, which was established last June by the President with the goal to “reverse pollinator losses and help respond populations to healthy levels.” Last October the White House announced it would miss its self-assigned deadline, delaying the urgent action that is needed to address this crisis. The letter urges President Obama and executive agencies to take action against a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, systemic poisons that are devastating bee populations. They are also threatening the nation’s food supply, since one-third of the food consumed in the United States is pollinated by bees. “Through bold and decisive action from the White House and EPA, we can begin to reverse bee declines and protect pollinator populations for future generations,” said Nichelle Harriott, Science and Regulatory  Director at Beyond Pesticides. Among other steps the  letter calls […]

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27
Feb

New Research Links Bee-Killing Insecticide to Monarch Butterfly Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2015) New research from the University of Minnesota presents some of the first evidence linking the bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids to monarch butterfly deaths. The study finds that milkweed plants, which monarch butterflies need to survive, may also retain neonicotinoids from nearby plants, making milkweed toxic to monarchs. Monarch population numbers have fallen by 90% in less than 20 years. This year’s population was the second lowest since careful surveys began two decades ago. The critical driver of monarch decline  is the loss of larval host plants in their main breeding habitat, the midwestern Corn Belt. Monarchs lay eggs exclusively on plants in the milkweed family, the only food their larvae will eat. University of Minnesota entomologist Vera Krischik, Ph.D. fed butterflies milkweed plants treated with the neonicotinoid insecticide known as imidacloprid in amounts that might typically be found on backyard plants. While adult monarchs and painted lady butterflies were not affected, which, according to Dr. Krischik, indicates the ability of the adults to detoxify, the larvae of both species of butterflies died. During the course of the study, larvae fed on the treated plants for seven days. “For the monarch, nobody was left that […]

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24
Feb

Will White House Help Bees, as Declines Threaten to Sting Consumers’ Wallets, and States Respond?

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2015) According to recent reports from local California news outlets, Honey Bees are in Short Supply In Central Valley, with the risk that consumers across the United States will be seeing higher prices on fruits, nuts, and vegetables this year as a consequence of declining honey bee populations. The ongoing pollinator crisis has resulted in greater than 30% of managed bee colonies dying off each winter since 2006, an unsustainable rate that will inevitably impact the pocketbooks of consumers in the U.S. and may even ultimately result in global malnutrition. But that doesn’t have to be the outcome. As Beyond Pesticides continues to remind concerned residents, although there are a number of hazards affecting honey bee populations, this crisis is No Longer a Big Mystery. The scientific evidence shows that a class of toxic, persistent, systemic chemicals called neonicotinoids present immense risks to honey bees and other pollinator species. Twenty-nine scientists spanning multiple disciplines analyzed over 800 peer-reviewed papers on the subject came to a similar conclusion. “The assessment found that both individuals and populations can be adversely affected by low or acute exposure making them highly vulnerable. Pollinators exposed to contaminated pollen, nectar and water […]

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