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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Wildlife/Endangered Sp.' Category


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 But, with a  nationwide public outcry, the permit was withdrawn in May 2015.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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11
Jan

UK Researchers Find Bee-Killing Pesticide Cocktail in Hedgerows and Wildflowers

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2016) Scientists at Sussex University in the United Kingdom (UK) have found that bumble bees and honey bees are exposed to a harmful chemical cocktail when collecting pollen from wildflowers and hedgerows that border neonicotinoid-treated crops in UK farmland. After testing oilseed rape croplands during blooming season, these chemical cocktails were found to be mixed with fungicides and insecticides, and at concentrations much higher than expected.  According to the Soil Association, which supported the study, “These chemical cocktails could make the impact of neonicotinoids up to 1,000 times more potent than previously realized.” With at least 121 different agrochemicals detected in hive wax and pollen samples in the Unites States, most of which include systemic pesticides, it is becoming increasingly more important to study the synergistic effects of pesticides in and outside of farm land. The study focused on “determining which mixtures of commonly used fungicides occur alongside neonicotinoids” and found that all individual oilseed rape pollen samples contained at least six neonicotinoid and fungicide residues. To compare, three neonicotinoid and six fungicides were detected in wildflower pollen samples. While the wildflower contamination was expectedly lower than crop contamination, the rate of bee contamination paints a […]

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04
Jan

Study Adds to Evidence of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Intersex Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2016) A study published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found large-scale evidence of intersex in smallmouth and largemouth bass in the Northeast United States, an indicator of endocrine disruption. The study, published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, looks at 19 U.S. National Wildlife Refuges and is the first reconnaissance survey of this scope. The study found that the prevalence of testicular oocytes across all samples was 85% and 27% for male small- and largemouth bass, respectively. Intersex occurs when one sex develops characteristics of the opposite sex. In the case of this study, researchers found testicular oocytes ””female eggs found inside male testicles””in male smallmouth and largemouth bass. The study explains, “The presence of oocytes in the testes of male gonochoristic fish has been used as an indicator of estrogenic exposure.” The source of the estrogen is 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 USGS, “Intersex is a global issue, […]

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23
Dec

Native Bee Populations on Decline on U.S. Farms

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2015) Native  bees are on the decline in some of the major agricultural regions in the United States, according to a new study. The study scientists produced the first national map of bee populations and identified numerous trouble areas. Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have experienced ongoing and rapid population declines. The continuation of this crisis threatens the stability of ecosystems, the economy, and food supply, as one in three bites of food are dependent on pollinator services. The study, titled Modeling the status, trends, and impacts of wild bee abundance in the United States  and published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science, for the first time aims to assess the status and trends of wild bees and their potential impacts on pollination services across the U.S. and found that between 2008 and 2013 bee abundance declined across 23% of the nation’s  land area. The decline is generally associated with conversion of natural habitats to row crops. The researchers also list pesticide use, climate change, and disease as other threats to wild bees. The researchers specifically cited 139 counties as especially worrisome, with […]

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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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30
Nov

Studies Add to Mounting Evidence of Neonic Dangers

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2015) Last week, two studies were published that link neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide exposure to detrimental effects in bees and butterflies. The first study, published in the international scientific journal Nature, found that bumblebees exposed to neonics suffered pollination services impairment that reduces their delivery to apple crops. The second study, published in the United Kingdom journal Peer J, used over 1,000 sites cataloged from 1984 to 2012 in the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) database to point to the strong association between neonic use and butterfly population decline. These studies contribute to the mounting evidence that neonic insecticides are linked to pollinator decline. Neonics have increasingly been the subject of recent studies that highlight a causal relationship between neonic exposure  and harmful effects to pollinators, like foraging and reproductive complications. These effects are being identified by scientists all over the world, gradually negating industry criticism of study design. Andre Gilburn, PhD, and ecologist at the University of Stirling, led the butterfly study. He said, “Our study not only identifies a worrying link between the use of neonicotinoids and declines in butterflies, but also suggests that the strength of their impact on many species could be huge.” […]

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12
Nov

Native Bees Found to Have Residues of Pesticides Linked to Their Steep Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2015) The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently performed the first-ever study of pesticide residues on native bee populations and found that they are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides, as well as other pesticides, at significant rates. This study digs deeper into a question  that was previously considered by a researcher who  studied chemical-intensive  apple orchards and linked a steep decline in wild or native bees to the application of pesticides. The USGS study  broadens understanding about the effects of toxic pesticides to native bee species, expanding field research that has principally focused on managed honey bee populations. The study tested for 122 different pesticides including bifenthrin, atrazine and chlorpyrifos, a chemical for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed to revoke all food tolerances in response to  a court-ordered deadline. According to study findings, 72% of bees tested positive for pesticide residues, raising concerns for the potential for unintended pesticides exposures where land uses overlap or are in proximity to one another.   Residues of pesticides found in bees in the study include  thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid, all of which are highly toxic neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals that have been linked to the global […]

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09
Nov

USDA Continues to Suppress Independent Science on Bee-Killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 09, 2015) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cancelled a webinar on the presence of neonicotinoids in waterways in the Prairie Pothole region, according to the government watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER states that the cancellation is “another example of USDA interfering with the release of new science-based information about adverse effects linked to  neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides.” As a result, PEER continues, “Growing ecological risks posed by the most widely used insecticides in North America will likely not be considered in developing USDA policies, planning or management practices.” Neonicotinoids are a controversial class of chemicals that have been linked to the global bee decline by a rapidly growing body of scientific literature. A webinar, titled Pesticides and Potholes: Understanding the Risks of Neonicotinoid Insecticides to Aquatic Ecosystems in Prairie Canada and Beyond,  was supposed to take place June 24, 2014, according to PEER. Instead, the online event was cancelled by Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D., the Deputy Chief for Science and Technology at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The online event would have featured Christy Morrissey, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, School of Environment and Sustainability, whose research includes […]

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02
Nov

EPA Continues Trend of Pesticide Approval without Adequate Review

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2015) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted a formal notice last week for intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving benzovindiflupyr, a fungicide that is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. CBD asserts that EPA recognized that benzovindiflupyr could harm wildlife and critical habitat protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but approved it for use without consulting with expert wildlife agencies as required by the act. This is  not the first time that EPA has approved toxic chemicals without fully understanding the consequences. On August 28, 2015, EPA granted broad approval for use of benzovindiflupyr on most crops, including cereals, corn, vegetables, fruits, turf grass and ornamentals. The agency’s own data show that benzovindiflupyr is highly persistent in the environment and will build up in waterways due to runoff from treated fields. Nonetheless, EPA approved benzovindiflupyr for immediate use. “This pesticide is highly poisonous to fish and other wildlife, but the EPA approved it anyway,” said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in their press release. “This agency’s cavalier approach to approving new toxic chemicals without required consultation or studies must end. The EPA’s indifference is […]

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20
Oct

Study Finds Neonics “Severely Affect” Health of Honey Bee Queens

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2015) Exposure to neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides results in profound negative impacts to the health of honey bee queens, according to an international team of researchers led by Geoff Williams, MD, PhD, at the University of Bern in Switzerland. While most studies to date have investigated how neonics effect the health of individual workers or overall colony fitness, Dr. William’s study, Neonicotinoid pesticides severely affect honey bee queens, is one of the first to focus on the health of honey bee queens. Neither the European Union nor U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study the impacts of pesticides on queen health before allowing a pesticide to market. The results of this research are particularly concerning, given widespread anecdotal evidence from beekeepers across the globe that ”˜poor quality queens’ are playing a role in bee declines. To test the impacts of these chemicals on queen honey bees, scientists exposed a sample of 29 queens to field-realistic levels of the neonics  clothianidian and thiamethoxam (1 parts per billion and 4 ppb respectively), and compared them to a population of 28 control queens, which were not treated with neonics. Both groups experienced similar environmental circumstances in terms of food availability, rearing […]

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16
Sep

Despite Evidence of Harm and Lack of Need, USDA Supports Unrestricted Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2015) In a letter posted to the federal docket, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that it is opposed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposal to restrict pesticides highly toxic to bees on sites where managed bees are present, saying the measure “has not established the need for such a prohibition.” In its position, USDA  cites economic impacts to farmers and lack of a cost/benefit analysis. USDA’s critique of EPA’s proposal contrasts with a decision handed down last week by a federal court that ruled EPA should not ignore risk concerns for bees and rejected the registration of a pesticide known to be highly toxic to bees, highlighting a lack of collaboration and understanding between federal agencies in advancing  pollinator protection. USDA communicated its challenge to EPA despite the growing body of science on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides and findings in Europe that their restriction does not undermine crop productivity. Last May,  EPA announced a new proposal  to temporarily prohibit foliar applications of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees during plant bloom and when managed bees are on site and under contract. The proposal received a mixed response, with many from […]

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10
Sep

California to List Glyphosate (Roundup) as Cancer-Causing

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2015) Last week, California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it intended to list glyphosate (Roundup) and three other chemicals as cancer-causing chemicals under California’s  Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Glyphosate  is a phosphanoglycine herbicide that inhibits an enzyme essential to plant growth. Under California law, Proposition 65 requires that certain substances identified by the International View postAgency for Research on Cancer (IARC) be listed as known cancer-causing chemicals. In March, a study by the IARC classified glyphosate as a Group 2A material, which means that the chemical is carcinogenic based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. The agency considered the findings from an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel report, along with several recent studies in making its conclusion. However, industry supporters of glyphosate all over the globe are conducting their own studies to attempt to prove that it is not a carcinogen. These studies, like one by German Federal Institute for Risk Assessments (BfR), are based almost solely on industry science and classified industry reports, each of which might not consider critical variables. With more glyphosate-focused studies being released, the growing evidence […]

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04
Sep

Call for More Research on Bee-Toxic Pesticides as Their Link to Bee Deaths Strengthens

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2015) Research into neonicotinoid insecticides, a class of bee-toxic chemicals, and their effects on bees, needs to be more comprehensive in order to better reflect their global use, concludes a recent review of the current literature. The authors of the review state that despite considerable research efforts, there are still significant knowledge gaps concerning the impacts of neonicotinoids on bees. Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have experienced ongoing and rapid population declines. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides (especially the  neonicotinoid class of insecticides), either acting individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees and wild pollinators. Neonicotinoids can be persistent in the environment, and have the ability to translocate into the pollen and nectar of treated plants. The systematic review, titled Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Their Impacts on Bees: A Systematic Review of Research Approaches and Identification of Knowledge Gaps  and published in the journal PLoS ONE, took a look at over 200 primary research studies in order to identify knowledge gaps. While there is a growing body of science examining the impacts of neonicotinoid use, knowledge gaps need […]

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26
Aug

Country-wide Field Study Links Pollinator Decline to Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2015) A  study performed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in the United Kingdom (UK) provides evidence of confirming the link between neonicotinoid pesticides and continually increasing honey bee colony losses on a landscape level. The study, Evidence for pollinator cost and farming benefits of neonicotinoid seed coatings on oilseed rape, was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. This is a significant study, as the UK government has always maintained that neonicotinoid pesticides do not threaten bees, and that honey bee losses are instead caused by the parasitic varroa mite, siding with industry arguments that pesticides are safe when used properly. However, this new study indicates otherwise, confirming a direct link between neonicotinoids and honey bee colony losses at a nationwide level. This study distinguishes itself from  a previous study in the U.S. that extrapolated real world neonicotinoid exposure levels  to  test hives by analyzing actual fields in a  long-term assessment. To a large degree, the new study addresses industry critics of the earlier study design who have tried to discount previous findings of bee decline associated with neonicotinoid use (see Beyond Pesticides’ Sowing the Seeds of Doubt, which addresses these industry myths). […]

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25
Aug

Minneapolis, MN Passes Organic, Pollinator-Friendly Resolution

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2015) Last Friday, the City Council of Minneapolis, MN unanimously passed a resolution declaring Minneapolis a pollinator-friendly community and urging city residents to take steps to protect dwindling pollinator populations. A groundswell of public support from a wide range of local and national groups, including Beyond Pesticides, resulted in swift passage of the resolution, the latest in a long string of local government action to safeguard pollinators from harmful pesticides, as federal proposals fail to address the magnitude of the crisis. “With the passage of today’s resolution, Minneapolis is now doing its part in the global effort to protect and grow the pollinator populations,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said to CBS Minnesota. The resolution, introduced and written by Councilmember Cam Gordon, assigns a number of bee safe actions to various city departments. While the Health Department’s Environmental Services Unit will maintain a list of pollinator-friendly plants, the Community Planning and Economic Development Department and Property Services Division of the City Coordinator’s office will create habitat for local pollinators. The Minneapolis Public Works Department will pursue both increased bee habitat and adopt clear guidelines against the use of pesticides, including but not limited to systemic neonicotinoid  (“neonic”) insecticides, […]

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21
Aug

Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids Found in Nearly Half of U.S. Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2015) Neonicotinoid insecticides contaminate over half of urban and agricultural streams across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a study released earlier this week by the U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS). Neonicotinoids (neonics) are bee-toxic insecticides that have been linked to the global decline in bee populations by a large body of science. The study, titled “First national-scale reconnaissance of neonicotinoid insecticides in streams across the USA” and published in Environmental Chemistry,  was conducted from 2011 to 2014 and spans 24 states and Puerto Rico. Researchers found that at least one of the six neonicotinoids tested by USGS researchers was found in more than half of the sampled streams. Detections of the  six  neonicotinoids varied:    imidacloprid  was found in 37 percent of the samples in the national study, clothianidin in 24 percent, thiamethoxam in 21 percent, dinotefuran in 13 percent, acetamiprid in 3 percent, and thiacloprid was not detected. Both urban and agricultural uses contributed to neonic concentrations in streams, with imidacloprid occurrence significantly related to the amount of urban land-use and clothianidin and thiamethoxam significantly related to the amount of cultivated crop. “In the study, neonicotinoids occurred throughout the year in urban streams […]

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18
Aug

Decline in Biodiversity and Pest Problems Intricately Linked

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2015) Research looking at corn production  across the Northern Great Plains finds that fields with lower insect biodiversity are at greater risk for pest problems, showing that insect diversity can reduce the need for pesticides, yet again highlighting the critical need for biodiversity in a resilient and sustainable food production system. The research article, Trading Biodiversity for Pest Problems, is published in the July 31 issue of Science Advances, and explores how current chemical-intensive  practices have resulted in altered pesticide use patterns, land use intensification, and landscape simplification, all of which threaten biodiversity in and near farms. The findings suggest that farming practices that promote insect biodiversity is  an effective way to control pests without the use of harmful pesticides. Scientists Jonathan Lundgren, PhD, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and Scott Fausti, PhD, an economics professor at South Dakota State University looked at insect diversity in cornfields on 53 different eastern South Dakota farms. The researchers evaluate fields that do not use insecticides or crops that are genetically engineered (GE), which may  influence corn insect communities. They also specifically identify insect species during the time in the corn’s life cycle […]

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17
Aug

Roundup Damages Earthworms and Soil Biota, Contributes to Nutrient Pollution

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2015) A study published in Scientific Reports has found that glyphosate, the controversial and toxic active ingredient in Roundup, reduces activity and reproduction in two species of earthworms and increases soil nutrient concentrations to dangerous levels. Earthworms are excellent indicators of soil health, and provide vitally important  ecosystem services  by aerating the soil, cycling nutrients, and increasing soil fertility and microbial activity. The findings are especially alarming because this herbicide has been used globally for decades, and its  use has  grown exponentially.  Earlier this spring, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as Group 2a “probable” human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in laboratory animals. Researchers looked at two species of earthworms: vertically burrowing earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) and soil dwelling earthworms (Aporrectodea caliginosa). Vertically burrowing earthworms typically feed above ground at night and then burrow close to the surface during the day. Soil dwelling earthworms live and feed in the soil, rather than at the surface. Vertically burrowing earthworms engage in what is known as casting, which is when they ingest soil and extract nutrients from plant litter and other organic matter, emerge from their burrows, and deposit their waste […]

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14
Aug

Sublethal Exposure to Pesticides Induces Personality Changes in Spiders

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2015) Sublethal exposure to the organophosphate pesticide phosmet results in significant alterations in personality in individual spiders, according to a study published in the July print edition of the journal Functional Ecology. The study, titled “Under the influence: sublethal exposure to an insecticide affects personality expression in a jumping spider,” examines whether sublethal exposure to an organophosphate insecticide affects the consistency of individual behavior and disrupt behavioral correlations in the jumping spider Eris militaris (Araneae: Salticidae). Researchers measured the behavior of jumping spider adults by scoring them according to an open-field and a prey-capture assay, each conducted both before and after exposure to the insecticide phosmet. Researchers then measured the changes in repeatability, a measure of the extent of personality differences, and behavioral correlations between exposed and unexposed groups. Although there are no discernible effects on the population’s average behaviors, exposed individuals showed an average of 23 percent lower repeatability and the correlation between activity and prey capture is more strongly collapsed in females. “Bronze jumping spiders play an important role in orchards and fields, especially at the beginning of the agricultural season, by eating many of the pests like the oblique-banded leafroller, a moth that […]

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05
Aug

Bumper Canola Crop Expected Even Without Bee-Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2015) The United Kingdom (UK) is poised to harvest higher than expected yields of winter oilseed rape (canola) in its first neonicotinoid-free growing season since the European moratorium on neonicotinoids went into place in 2013. This bumper harvest comes amid the recent approval of an emergency exemption for neonicotinoid use on the crop in certain areas of the UK, and disproves the industry argument  that  the crop would falter without the use of neonicotinoids. Activists argue that these findings show there is ”˜no emergency’ for neonicotinoid use and that the current moratorium should remain in effect. The first harvest results of winter oilseed rape (canola) planted without neonicotinoid seed treatments have come in – and farmers are experiencing a better than usual crop. Figures for the first oilseed rape harvest since the European-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was introduced show that the yield so far is higher than the average for the previous decade, when the chemicals were used on the majority of oilseed rape grown in the UK. Farmers Weekly, a leading multimedia information service for farmers and agricultural businesses, has reported that yields are up by as much as eight percent. The European Union […]

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28
Jul

Bee-Killing Pesticides Ubiquitous in Pollen Samples During Honey Bee Forage Season

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2015) Data published from the Harvard School of Public Health reveals  neonicotinoids (neonics), a class of chemicals implicated in the global decline of honey bees and other pollinators, in over 70% of both pollen and honey samples collected throughout the state of Massachusetts during months when bees are most actively foraging. The results of this study have grave  implications for pollinator health, as even minute, near-infinitesimal doses of neonics can cause sublethal impacts that compromise the health of entire bee colonies. The Harvard study, led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu, PhD, and published in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry, took monthly honey and pollen samples from 62 volunteered bee hives between April and August 2013. The 219 pollen and 53 honey samples were then analyzed for the presence of eight neonic insecticides. Every month, in every location, researchers found neonics in the pollen and honey collected by bees. In total, 73% of pollen samples and 72% of honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid at levels which could result in sublethal harm. While previous studies have tested the presence of neonics at a single point in time, this is the first study to show the long-term persistence […]

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24
Jul

UK Approves Emergency Application for Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Use Despite Moratorium

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2015) An emergency application was approved by the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on Wednesday that allows  farmers to use neonicotinoid seed treatment on 5 percent of oilseed rape crop (known as canola in the U.S.) this summer to control a flea beetle infestation. The emergency use, which has been granted for 120 days, allows growers to use Bayer CropScience’s Modesto (clothianidin) and Syngenta’s Cruiser OSR (thiamethoxam). The active ingredients of these products belong to a class of toxic chemicals knowns as neonicotinoids, which have been linked to pollinator decline. The request was the second one for the National Farmers Union (NFU) after the first request for a nationwide lifting of the two-year moratorium on neonicotinoid use was rejected. The NFU said it was “frustrated” at having to put in an application for a smaller area. There have been numerous attempts to shroud the application process in secrecy. DEFRA told its expert committee on pesticides (ECP) to halt its  normal practice of publishing the minutes  of meetings at which the neonicotinoid applications were discussed, in order to avoid “provoking representations from different interest groups.” Additionally, according to the Guardian, the UK government […]

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23
Jul

Neonicotinoids Harm Beneficial Predatory Insects through Secondary Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2015) A recent study looks at the detrimental effects of neonicotinoids (neonics) on molluscan herbivores and their non-target insect predators, finding that slug exposure to neonics results in the secondary poisoning of beneficial predatory beetles. The study, authored by Maggie Douglas, PhD candidate at Penn State University, was presented earlier this month at a congressional briefing, An Expert Briefing to Discuss Pollinators and Efforts to Protect Them. The briefing was organized by Center for Food Safety and attended by the sponsors of Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692), Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The study specifically looks at the pest slug Deroceras reticulatum and its predator beetle, Chlaenius tricolor. Ms. Douglas and her co-researchers find that neonicotinoid seed-treated soy beans can unintentionally impact predatory, beneficial insects through a previously unexplored pathway. Here are some highlights of the study’s methods and findings: Soy beans were treated with the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. The seed treatments had zero effect on pest slugs, and instead were bioaccumulated and then transferred through the slugs into their insect predators, impairing or killing >60%. This resulted in a loss of crop due to a decline in beneficial insect predators and an […]

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