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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


10
Aug

Reports of Increasing Honey Bee Colonies Mask Continuing Pollinator Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2017)  New data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier this month, indicating a slight increase in the number of honey bee colonies, is masked by beekeepers’ efforts to split hives in the face of losses. The USDA reports that Colony Collapse Disorder losses (CCD) are down 27% compared to the past year. While these numbers may seem to be a positive sign after over a decade of consistent pollinator declines, they are more indicative of a beekeeping industry that is using every available tactic possible to stay viable. With the continued use of highly toxic neonicotinoid insecticides in farms, gardens, and public spaces throughout the country, the long-term health honey bees and other pollinators continue to be in jeopardy. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of beekeeping operations with five or more colonies reported a total of 2.89 million colonies in April 2017, a 3% increase from April 2016, when numbers stood at 2.80 million. News media such as Bloomberg hailed this report in an article headlined “Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder.” However, a closer look into the numbers and beekeeper accounts reveals what is actually occurring. A more accurate […]

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09
Aug

Glyphosate Stresses Tadpoles to Produce More Venom

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2017) Common toad tadpoles express more venom when chronically exposed to glyphosate herbicides, a study published last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates. Glyphosate, an increasingly controversial chemical found in Roundup brand herbicides produced by Monsanto, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts in both wildlife and people. The results of this research indicate a need to reduce the use of glyphosate in our environment to ease chronic stressors to sensitive wildlife like amphibians. Scientists tested the effects of formulated glyphosate products on toad tadpoles through experiments in a laboratory setting, as well as a mesocosm, a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Tadpoles in the lab were split into a series of groups which were each exposed to varying levels of glyphosate, some for the duration of the experiment, and others for 9 day periods during different stages in their development. For mesocosm tadpoles, researchers set up large plastic tubs and created small self-sustaining ecosystems with pond water and beech leaves. Glyphosate herbicides were added to certain tubs at either low or high concentrations. Both lab and mesocosm experiments had control tadpoles not exposed to any glyphosate herbicides. Tadpoles […]

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08
Aug

Crop Damage from Monsanto’s Herbicide Dicamba Being Investigated in 17 States, Pointing to New Formulation Used in GE Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2017) More than 1,400 official complaints of crop damage related to the herbicide dicamba have been recorded across 17 states this year, leading some to question a new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) fields. Dicamba, a toxic pesticide prone to drift off the target site, has been used in agriculture for decades. However, new GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and until now many believed these drift incidents were the result of illegal formulations of dicamba being applied to fields. But the extent of damage now being observed, covering over 2.5 million acres, is casting doubt on this theory, and raising more questions as to whether the new dicamba formulation is actually the cause of the widespread drift damage. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other crops that are not genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical. Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sell new formulations of the herbicide for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, and state enforcement officials and farmers have attributed last year’s damage incidents to off-label uses of older dicamba products. Initial reports began to surface […]

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07
Aug

Action: Oppose Release of Genetically Engineered Moth in New York

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2017) Help stop a dangerous plan hatched in New York to control a caterpillar in cabbage. Under the plan, up to 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) male diamondback moths (DBMs) will be released each week during the cabbage planting cycle (which runs about three to four months). According to USDA, “The males are genetically engineered with a lethal gene that they pass on to females when they mate.” Because of the widespread release, this plan –a first of its kind in food crops– will contaminate organic farms with genetically engineered material. And, this is all being done based on a cursory environmental assessment, without an in-depth environmental impact assessment. This is an issue that affects all of us –not just New Yorkers–because the moths do not respect state boundaries, and this action would set a precedent for other states. Inadequate Environmental Review Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Cornell University’s proposed release, there is an urgent need to ensure that the state of New York addresses contamination issues that APHIS failed to consider. At the top of the list is possible contamination of organic crops, which […]

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04
Aug

Court Overturns Montgomery County, MD Pesticide Restrictions, Groups Say Decision Defies Local Authority to Protect Health

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) A Circuit Court for the state of Maryland  on Thursday struck down key components of the landmark Healthy Lawns Act pesticide ordinance passed in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2015. The court’s decision, issued by Judge Terrence McGann, eliminates pesticide use restrictions on private property, but does not touch provisions limiting toxic pesticides used on public, county owned land. Grassroots advocates who supported passage of the Healthy Lawns Act to protect children, families and the environment are dismayed by the court’s ruling, but nevertheless vow to keep up the fight for protections from hazardous pesticides used in their community. “The court should have recognized that, in restricting lawn pesticides throughout its jurisdiction, Montgomery County is exercising a local democratic principle under Maryland and federal law to ensure the safety of the community, including children, pets, and the environment, from a known hazard not adequately regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After extensive hearings and study, the county council understands that toxic chemicals are dangerous and not needed to have beautiful lawns and landscapes,” Mr. Feldman said. By passing the Healthy Lawns Act, the Montgomery […]

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03
Aug

Chronic Pesticide Exposure at Work Tied to Breathing Disorders

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2017) Working in close contact with pesticides over the course of one’s lifetime increases the risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing disorders, according to a study published in Thorax by a team of Australian researchers. While cigarette smoke remains the single leading cause of lung disease worldwide, there is growing interest in understanding the environmental exposures of individuals that develop breathing problems, but have never smoked. Given the growing list of pesticide-induced diseases, the study’s results reinforce calls for a change in pest management approaches that safeguard farmwokers and pest control operators. Researchers’ examination of pesticide exposure made use of a health study that first began in Tazmania in 1968, and tracked asthma prevalence in participants at ages 12, 18, and 30. With this background data in hand, researchers followed up with a subset of study participants, now roughly 45 years old, and were able to further analyze 1,255 participants via in-person laboratory tests. “Our study looked at long-term exposure to pesticides,” said Sheikh Alif, PhD, lead researcher of the study at the University of Melborne to Reuters. “[I]t is thought that long-term exposure to pesticides increases mucus secretion and muscle contraction […]

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02
Aug

August’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Pollen Wasp

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2017). August’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month is the Pollen Wasp! Pollen wasps, of the small subfamily Masarinae are the only “vegetarian” wasp in the family Vespidae., They feed solely on nectar and pollen, unlike their more aggressive Vespid wasp cousins. There are 300 species of pollen wasp from 14 genera spread across the globe, however, in the U.S., all 14 species of pollen wasps originate from the genus Pseudomasaris. Range Pollen wasps are found throughout the world, though they tend to concentrate in arid areas of southern Africa, and North and South America. They are not documented in the tropics or in Antarctica. In the United States, they can be found from Washington to as far south as New Mexico, and as far east as Nebraska. They are solitary pollinators who make their nests out of mud, often attached to branches, rocks, or hanging off ledges. Diet and Pollination Pollen wasps differ from their omnivorous Vespid wasp relatives by rearing their young on nectar and pollen, rather than other insects. They are the only Vespid species which do so. Their nests, made up of a mixture of soil and nectar, are usually comprised of 4-10 […]

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31
Jul

Take Action: Stop Fraudulent Organic Food Imports

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2017)  At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country. The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label. According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud. >>>Act now to tell NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and your Congressional delegation to protect the organic label for the sake of farmers and consumers! OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers […]

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27
Jul

Bill to Ban Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Introduced in the U.S. Senate

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2017) Earlier this week U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill that would ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624, comes one week after an appeals court refused to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a decision over whether to ban the chemical. Removing this neurotoxic insecticide from the environment would significantly reduce health risks for children and farmworkers in underserved rural communities, build pressure to address all toxic organophosphates, and help push U.S. agriculture in a more sustainable direction. As with other organophosphate class chemicals, chlorpyrifos, first registered in 1965 by Dow Chemical, is derived from nerve agents used during World War 2. The chemical is linked to a range of negative health and environmental outcomes that warrant its prohibition. Children are at particular risk from the chemical due to their developing immune, organ, and nervous systems.  As with other organophosphate nerve agents, the chemical acts on the body’s nervous system, inhibiting the movement of neurotransmitters called cholinesterase. Chlorpyrifos chemically binds to the site where cholinesterase would in the body, preventing normal nerve impulse transmission. […]

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26
Jul

Campbell’s Soup Parts with Grocery Manufacturers Association over GE Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2017) Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of the year over concerns that the trade association no longer represents its views concerning labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison said that while the company does not question the safety of GE food, it recognizes that most consumers want to see GE ingredients on the label. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has supported the GMA digital disclosure and lists ingredients that “may be derived from crops grown from genetically engineered seeds” on its website. The move by Campbell Soup comes as USDA is pondering possible disclosure options under the “compromise” bill on labeling genetically engineered food passed last year by the U.S. Congress. The company says, “While this legislation offers a range of disclosure options for manufacturers, we will introduce an on-pack statement as we know that’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans support. We’re working on language that provides specific ingredient information and supports the science that GMOs are safe.” A number of other companies have also announced their intention to label GE ingredients, while similarly maintaining their safety. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has extended to August […]

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25
Jul

EPA Rejects Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production, Paves Way for Organic Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2017) With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in dozens of states, the question of pesticide use in commercial cannabis production and resulting residues in a range of products is a burning issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) injected itself into this question when last week it issued a notice of intent to disapprove the planned registration of four pesticides for cannabis production by the state of California. Given cannabis’ narcotic status by the federal government, EPA does not register pesticides for use in marijuana production. However, states and previously EPA have considered using a Special Local Needs (SLN) permit under the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (Section 24c), to allow this unregistered pesticide use to meet an “existing or imminent pest problem.” While reports suggest that EPA’s rejection is likely politically motivated based on the current administrator’s opposition to cannabis legalization in general, the agency’s determination is consistent with Beyond Pesticides’ letters to states and EPA, which encourage the burgeoning industry to root itself in organic production, without the use of toxic pesticides. “The cannabis industry has the opportunity to develop with organic soil management and fertility practices that […]

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21
Jul

Sustained Glyphosate Use Reveals Risks to Soil and Environmental Health

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2017) A March 2017 review of studies on the agricultural use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup” and other formulated herbicides) points to widespread persistence in soils subject to long-term, intensive glyphosate use, and myriad resulting concerns about impacts on soil and environmental health. The review, by Robert J. Kremer, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, cites concerns that include: reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption to organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria; increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced nitrogen fixing at plant roots; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms. Globally, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide compound: in 2017, worldwide use is estimated to be approximately 1.35 million metric tons. Use in the U.S. has risen dramatically — from 2.72–3.62 million kg in 1987 to approximately 108 million kg in 2014, and 15-fold since 1996, when genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Use has grown for a number of reasons, including more-intensive use as resistance to the herbicide grows. Researchers have found that, after years of consistent application to […]

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20
Jul

Urgent/by Monday: Help Stop Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides from Killing Bees and Contaminating Waterways!

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2017) In its recently released 2017 Preliminary Aquatic Risk Assessment for Imidacloprid, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that this neonicotinoid insecticide is not only toxic to bees but also, is destroying life in the nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes. This assessment finds that aquatic invertebrates, especially aquatic insects basic to aquatic food chains, are sensitive to imidacloprid, and that current imidacloprid levels detected in streams, rivers, lakes, and drainage canals exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints. Impacts occur at low concentrations, and can result in decreased species abundance, altered predator-prey relationships, and reduced nutrient cycling. Impacts to other wildlife that depend on these species raise serious cause for concern. Comment by July 24 and tell EPA to cancel these neonicotinoids to protect sensitive species and ecosystems. See sample comment language, below. Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran are too toxic for honey bees and native bees EPA also finds that the other neonicotinoids –clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran– pose risks to bees both on and around treated fields, but the agency has not evaluated risks from soil, surface water, or contaminated seed dust, which underestimates exposure risks and continues to put our native bees at risk. Clothianidin and thiamethoxam are […]

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19
Jul

Pesticide Caused Disruption of Ecological Balance Increases Parasitic Disease`

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2017) Research connects a healthy environment to overall public health, linking diseases to pesticide caused disruption of ecological balance. A new study, published by University of South Florida scientist Jason Rohr, PhD and colleagues, finds that the use of agricultural chemicals, predominantly in developing countries, is associated with increases in transmission risk for schistosomiasis, a disease caused by infection from a parasitic flatworm that lives in freshwater snails. The findings point to the need for an increased focus on alternative pest management approaches that promote, rather than degrade natural ecological services. Previous research published by Dr. Rohr and colleagues found that amphibians exposed to pesticides had higher rates of parasitic infection, and increased fertilizer use resulted in an increase in algae that snail parasite hosts feed on. For the current study, researchers investigated the human epidemiologic risks associated with common farm chemicals. To investigate pesticide effects on the ecosystem, scientists used mesocosms, an experiment designed in a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Algae, parasite-carrying snails, and snail predators (crayfish and water bugs) were added to a series of 60 tanks set up by researchers. The ecological effects of introducing chemical fertilizer, the herbicide atrazine, and insecticide chlorpyrifos […]

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18
Jul

Take Action: Comment to Stop U.S. Senate from Undermining Value of USDA Organic Food Label

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2018) The value of the organic label is under attack in the U.S. Congress. If proposed changes are adopted, the public will not be able to rely on the label to identify the stark differences between current organic and chemical-intensive food production practices. Beyond Pesticides has long advanced organic agriculture as a means of protecting  farmers, farmworkers, consumers, biodiversity, and the environment. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee is accepting comments now on Farm Bill proposals that will erode the meaning of organic. Although there are about 400 days to go before 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R, KS) is taking the opportunity of Senate hearings to attack those institutions that make organic agriculture standards clear, transparent, and subject to Congressionally mandated public oversight. In particular, Sen. Roberts and others are attacking the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is an impediment to organic factory farms. Organic production is subject to rigorous oversight through a certification and inspection process, not found in conventional agriculture, but needing continual improvement to keep pace with the tremendous growth of the organic sector. We want to protect and strengthen these standards, not reduce and weaken them. Part One […]

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11
Jul

Doctor in South Florida Sues to Block Hazardous Mosquito Spray

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2017) South Florida resident Michael Hall, M.D., filed an emergency request in federal court last week to block Miami-Dade County’s continued use of the organophosphate insecticide naled to control mosquito populations. There have been two rounds of aerial naled applications in Miami-Dade this year. Widespread use of the chemical in efforts to control the transmission of Zika last year prompted protests from residents complaining of health effects from the spraying, and calls to focus on less toxic, alternative methods of mosquito breeding prevention and control. The present use of naled in Miami-Dade is not focused on Zika control, but addressing the native salt marsh mosquito, which does not transmit human diseases, but can be a significant nuisance in shoreline areas. According to WLRN, officials are no longer using naled for Zika control as the mosquito species that carries it, Aedes aegypti, usually stays well hidden under vegetation and shrubbery. A study released last year confirmed that the county’s use of naled did little to reduce mosquito populations. “Naled, a potent organophosphate adulticide applied aerially, produced a transitory suppression in Wynwood but lost efficacy after two or three applications. In Miami Beach, aerial application of naled produced […]

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05
Jul

Polli-NATION Pollinator of the Month: The Hoverfly

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2017) The Hoverfly is July’s pollinator of the month. Hoverflies, also known as flower flies and syrphid flies, are members of the “true fly” order Diptera, family Syrphidae. There are roughly 200 genera and 6,000 species of hoverflies throughout the world. Range Hoverflies are commonly seen in in flowering landscapes across the globe. According to the United States Forest Service (USFS), there are almost 900 species of the family in North America. They live in a range of habitats, including decaying wood, still and moving freshwater, on plants, and sometimes even in other insects’ nests. They are not often found in desert regions, and no known species have been discovered in Antarctica. Diet and Pollination The diet of hoverflies varies widely among species. In general, they are vital pollinators for a range of common flowering plants. Most adult flower flies have generalized mouthparts structured to sap up nectar and harvest pollen from open flowers; others use a long, beak-like proboscis to imbibe nectar from tube-shaped flowers; and some reportedly feed on the honeydew secreted from aphids. Because certain syrphid flies will feed on human perspiration, they are often mistaken for sweat bees. Unlike sweat bees, however, […]

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20
Jun

Arkansas Moves Towards Emergency Ban of Herbicide Dicamba Following Crop Damage from Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2017) As Pollinator Week 2017 kicks off, the Arkansas State Plant Board’s (ASPB) Pesticide Committee coincidentally voted unanimously to recommend a ban on the use and sale of the habitat-eliminating herbicide dicamba in the state. Motivated by the crop damage caused by dicamba drift on to neighboring cropland, the full ASPB is expected to issue its recommendation today, which, if passed, will be sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) for final approval. The move is the latest in a series of crises that began when multinational chemical company Monsanto began selling soybeans genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate dicamba without its accompanying herbicide, leading to off-label uses of older dicamba products. The growth of herbicide use in genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops is contributing to a loss of habitat for pollinators. Of particular note is the loss of milkweed habitat caused by herbicide drift. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly (June 24, 2015), “Numerous publications have highlighted the importance of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) as a critical food resource for monarch butterfly larvae (Danaus plexippus L.), and have emphasized the importance of conservation of milkweed to […]

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16
Jun

Restaurants in Nation’s Capital Feature Foods Reliant on Pollinators for National Pollinator Week

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2017) In recognition of the importance of pollinators to food production during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety are teaming up with restaurants in the Nation’s Capital for the second annual “Made by Pollinators” campaign. The campaign will bring awareness to the issue of pollinator decline, which pesticides play a leading role in through lethal and chronic effects on these critical species. Participating restaurants, including Busboys and Poets, Lavagna, Logan Tavern, Restaurant Nora, Tabard Inn, and Vegetable and Butcher, will educate the public on the importance of pollinators by annotating their menus or offering pollinator-inspired specials that contain ingredients reliant on pollinators for production. One out of every three bites of food requires pollination, a fact these environmentally conscious restaurants will share with their patrons during National Pollinator Week 2017. Busboys and Poets remarked that, “Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to serve 99% of our menu. Our participation in Pollinator Week is a small step toward a movement to promote the health of our planet’s ecosystems.” By sourcing a multitude of their ingredients from organic farms, Busboys and Poets does their part to support pollinator health. Lavagna stated, “We’re thrilled to participate in […]

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01
Jun

Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Hawk Moth

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2017) The hawk moth is the pollinator of the month for June. Hawk moth is the common name for Sphingidae, a family of over 1,400 moth species. They are also commonly referred to as sphinx moths. This family is divided into two subfamilies, five tribes, and 205 genera. The voracious tomato hornworms and tobacco hornworms are larvae of two hawk moth species. Range According to a study by the University of Nebraska, hawk moths can be found in all parts of the world except Greenland. Some areas only host these moths for part of the year because many species make seasonal migrations to find reliable food sources and to breed. The study notes that some hawk moth species can even be found in Antarctica and the North Pole. Diet and Pollination The hawk moth drinks nectar from sweet-smelling flowers, many of which bloom at night. Most hawk moth species have a long proboscis. This hollow, tongue-like appendage is used to access nectar deep inside flowers. The family has the longest tongues in the moth and butterfly order. In some species, the proboscis reaches over a foot in length. These impressive tongues allow the moths to feed […]

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23
May

G20 Health Ministers Craft Plan to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2017) Health ministers from the G20 nations, the largest advanced and emerging economies, identified Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as a “current and increasing threat and challenge to global health” and committed the member countries to several actions aimed at reducing the occurrence of AMR. The outcome of the first meeting of G20 health ministers, the Berlin Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers, addresses a wide range of global health issues, including AMR. The G20 declaration contains little more than a mention of antimicrobials in agriculture, but both it and the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Declaration support WHO’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. WHO’s action plan includes measures of effectiveness of actions, including member state adoption of “policies on use of antimicrobial agents in terrestrial and aquatic animals and agriculture, including: implementation of Codex Alimentarius and OIE [Organization for Animal Health] international standards and guidelines as well as WHO/OIE guidance on the use of critically important antibiotics; phasing out of use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion and crop protection in the absence of risk analysis; and reduction in nontherapeutic use of antimicrobial medicines in animal health.” The G20 meeting last weekend was not the first time world […]

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17
May

Fraudulent Claims Undermine Organic Integrity

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2017 Fraud among producers portraying products of chemical intensive agriculture as organic –including those recently identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP)— is costly to organic producers and consumers. Imported grains –corn and soybeans that are largely fed to livestock whose products are sold as “organic”— are the focus of claims that USDA is not doing enough to protect the integrity of the organic label. The fraudulent documents that are the subject of the USDA alert are typically produced with the intent to circumvent U.S. organic regulations and are often forged along the supply chain with the goal of increasing the value of agricultural commodities imported to the United States. The arrival of soy and corn crops labeled as organic but later testing positive for residues of pesticides prohibited in organic production, has been well documented in recent years. USDA encourages certifying agents and organic operators to remain vigilant when purchasing organic products from suppliers, and warns of fines for up to $11,000 for anyone found in violation of selling products fraudulently labeled as organic. Additionally, the agency encourages anyone suspecting a violation has been committed to […]

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16
May

Spending Bill Found to Include Taxpayer-Funded Program to Promote GMOs

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2017) Buried in the spending bill passed earlier this month to avert a government shutdown is a provision that allots $3 million for a federal outreach campaign promoting agricultural biotechnology and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The bill tasks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to use these funds, “for consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed…” According to the Washington Post, Democrats in Congress made a failed bid to move the funding towards FDA-run pediatric medical projects, but faced unanimous Republican opposition. Under the provision, FDA and USDA will spend taxpayer money to create, “science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts of such biotechnology, food products, and feed.” If such an endeavor were made truly in the public interest, educational materials produced by these agencies would reveal significant adverse effects in every listed topic. GE crops, particularly those engineered to tolerate continuous applications of herbicides like glyphosate, are damaging to the environment. Significant increases in herbicide use as a result of these crops has been linked to the loss of milkweed habitat […]

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