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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pennsylvania' Category


14
Jun

Local Restaurants Launch Campaign to Protect Pollinators during National Pollinator Week

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2016) To celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, 2016, several Washington, DC restaurants have teamed up with Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety to launch a campaign, “Made by Pollinators,” to protect pollinators suffering steep declines. With one out of every three bites of food reliant on bees, the participating restaurants’ patrons will be treated to a special menu featuring pollinator-friendly food and provided with information on what they can do to help pollinators. The restaurants hope to increase public awareness on the importance of pollinators and steps that can be taken to reverse the decline. Participating  restaurants include Busboys and Poets, Founding Farmers, Lavagna, the Tabard Inn and Restaurant Nora. Of the 100 crop varieties that provide 90% of the world’s food, 71 are pollinated by bees. Honey bees alone pollinate 95 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables, such as apples, avocados, almonds, and cranberries. The value of pollination services to U.S. agriculture alone amounts to nearly $30 billion and about 80% of flowering plants require animal pollination. A recent government survey reports that U.S. beekeepers lost 44 percent of their colonies between spring 2015 and 2016 —the second highest loss to date. […]

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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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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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07
Jul

Intersex Fish in Pennsylvania Watersheds Linked to Agricultural Run-off of Endocrine Disruptors

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2014) A study led by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) finds intersex fish in three watersheds of Pennsylvania and shows strong connections between these occurrences and increased pollution in waterways from endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The study, Reproductive Health Indicators of Fish from Pennsylvania Watersheds: Associations with Chemicals of Emerging Concern, examined three species of fish in three separate watersheds of Pennsylvania to assess whether characteristics caused by hormones and hormone-mimicking compounds, such as immature eggs in male fish, were present. In aquatic environments, the presence of these intersex characteristics is widely used as a biomarker for assessing exposure to estrogenic chemicals, as well as anti-androgenic chemicals which inhibit development of male characteristics. Male smallmouth bass from all sites sampled had immature eggs in their testes; prevalence was lowest in the Ohio drainage, intermediate in the Delaware and highest in the Susquehanna. While these findings were disturbing in and of themselves, the study was also able to draw a connection to the increased presence of intersex characteristics and areas of high agricultural use. “The prevalence and severity of the immature eggs in smallmouth bass corresponded with the percent of agricultural land use in the watershed above the collection […]

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18
Apr

Climate Change Augments Agricultural Chemical Impacts on Lake Erie

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2013) With hotter and more frequent extreme weather events, scientists say harmful algal blooms caused by pesticides and fertilizer inputs will strike more often in water bodies like Lake Erie, to the detriment of aquatic life and surrounding wildlife. All trends, show that the conditions that caused Lake Erie’s 2011 algal blooms will continue recurring. The algal blooms, which cause bright green scum that completely covers the Western part of Lake Erie, occurs from mid-July to October, in part because of farming practices surrounding the Lake and in part due to climate change. Ecologist Thomas Bridgeman, Ph.D.  at the University of Toledo contributed to these findings in this month’s publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science entitled “Record-setting algal blooms in Lake Erie caused by meteorological trends consistent with expected future conditions. “The 2011 bloom was a catastrophe. But it could become the new normal if we don’t do anything” said Dr. Bridgeman. Importantly, the study concludes that “long-term trends in agricultural practices are consistent with increasing phosphorus loading to the western basin of the lake, and that these trends, coupled with meteorological conditions in spring 2011, produced record-breaking nutrient loads.” In short, […]

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14
Jan

Hazardous Aerial Spraying Used for Invasive Weed Management

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2013) Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle State Park, located on Lake Erie, recently contracted a commercial helicopter to spray herbicides on 170 acres of the park in an  attempt to control an overgrowth of  phragmites and narrow leaf cattail. This decision to aerial spray herbicides comes after the park has unsuccessfully tried to control these invasive plant species with ground level herbicide spraying since 1994. Presque Isle is the most popular destination along Pennsylvania’s six-mile Lake Erie coastline, and has over four million visitors a year. Presque Isle is home to over 330 types of birds and more than 800 species of native plants, many of which are rare, threatened, or endangered. This aerial herbicide application may have unintended health consequences for both human visitors and endangered animals that call this park their home. The October spraying also raises questions concerning how invasive species problems are framed, leading to unnecessary pesticide use. Spraying pesticides aerially can lead to a higher rate of pesticide drift compared to ground application. Given that pesticides can drift even when applied from a truck or a handheld applicator, up to 40% of the pesticide is lost to drift during aerial applications. Even when […]

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20
Nov

Pennsylvania Restricts “Hormone-Free” Dairy Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2007) According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, as of January 1, 2008, dairy products with labels such as “growth-hormone free” will be illegal in the state. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff announced the decision last month after convening a 22-member Food Labeling Advisory Committee to look into false or misleading claims in “absence labeling.”The ruling covers all dairy products sold in the state, forcing some out-of-state manufacturers, in effect, to make Pennsylvania-only packaging. So far, the state Department of Agriculture has notified 19 companies that their labels must change. Of the three principal types of labeling affected by the ruling, getting rid of “growth-hormone free” milk labels has proven most controversial.The PA Department of Agriculture explained its decision in a statement on its website, “[S]ome milk labels contain statements such as ”˜hormone-free,’ but all milk contains hormones. Some labels also claim the absence of synthetic hormones, but there is no scientific test that can determine the truth of this claim.” Organic labeling, Mr. Wolff said, involves a certification process that includes surprise audits, so the department does not currently intend to interfere with it. Some food safety advocates believe […]

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16
Nov

Independent Study Finds Bees Thrive Away From Cropland

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2007) A Pennsylvania beekeeper, John McDonald, has undertaken a study of agriculture’s effect on colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honeybees. After writing an article for the The San Francisco Chronicle that speculates on genetically modified (GM) crops’ contribution to the phenomenon, McDonald spent the last six months producing evidence to support his theory (one of many regarding the causes of CCD). In his original article, McDonald asks, “Is it not possible that while there is no lethal effect directly to the new bees [from GM crops], there might be some sublethal effect, such as immune suppression, acting as a slow killer? . . . Given that nearly every bite of food that we eat has a pollinator, the seriousness of this emerging problem could dwarf all previous food disruptions.” While CCD has been a worldwide concern, there has been minimal research in determining pesticides’ role, particularly regarding proximity to cropland. McDonald writes, “When it appeared that others weren’t interested in this experiment, I undertook to do my own investigation at my own expense.” Beginning in May, McDonald established new colonies (as his had been wiped out earlier), one in Centre County, Pennsylvania, where farming is extensive, […]

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