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Archive for the 'Wildlife/Endangered Sp.' Category


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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17
Jul

U.S. House May Prohibit States from Requiring Labeling of GE Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2015) The U.S. House of Representatives may pass a bill against the labeling of genetically-engineered (GE) food before the end of July. The House could vote as early as next week on a bill to preempt states from requiring labels on food made with GE ingredients. Backers say that the passage of the bill, HR 1599, named the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, but referred to by critics as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, seems assured, after speedy committee approval of the legislation. The Agriculture Committee, a quarter of whose members are cosponsors of the bill, approved an updated version on a voice vote during a session that ran less than 20 minutes. Only two members spoke against it. The legislation, reintroduced in March by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), will maintain secrecy  about GE ingredients in food, and would block both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and individual states from requiring GE food labels, but allow voluntary labeling standards. The bill also has a provision that seeks to create a federal certification process for voluntary non-GE labels, now rendered moot by the U.S. Department […]

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13
Jul

Study Links Climate Change to Shrinking Bumblebee Habitats

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2015) Many factors have been identified in bee and other pollinator decline across the globe, including loss of habitat, disease, and pesticides. A  new study from researchers in North American and Europe finds that the  changing climate also plays a vital role in decreasing bee habitat and thus reducing populations. The study reports that North American and European bumble bees are unable to colonize new warmer habitats north of their historic range, while simultaneously disappearing from the southern portions of their range. Published in Science, the study,  Climate change impacts on bumblebees converge across continents,  which is a comprehensive look at 67 bumblebee species and their territories over the last century, finds that many North American and European bumblebees have retreated from the southern edge of their historic ranges (away from the equator). While other species of animals have been able to adapt to climate change by expanding their habitats, bumblebees have not shifted to warming northern climes and are experiencing shrinking distributions in the southern ends of their range. The rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis), for instance, has disappeared from parts of the southeastern U.S. Bumblebees are also retreating to higher elevations, shifting upward by […]

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06
Jul

EPA at Odds with Scientists on Endocrine System Effects of Weedkillers Atrazine and 2,4-D

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2015) With the release of its  Tier 1 screening results  for the first 52 pesticide chemicals (active and inert ingredients) evaluated under  the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is at odds with a large body of scientific evidence worldwide that identifies many of these chemicals, most notably the herbicides  2,4-D  and  atrazine,  as interacting with the endocrine system or acting as endocrine disruptors. Independent scientific data has shown these chemicals to interfere with the hormone system. EPA’s EDSP is a multi-step process used to ensure that exposure to chemicals does not result in adverse human health and environmental effects that canoccur from the disruption of hormones. The two-tiered screening and testing system requires that EPA identify which chemicals are able to interact with the endocrine system, specifically with three hormonal pathways — estrogen, androgen, and thyroid — in Tier 1. Tier 2 is designed to go one step further, requiring EPA to determine endocrine effects across taxa (e.g. mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates) as well as potential effects on non-endocrine systems (e.g. neurological, immunological, hepatic, and renal).  According to EPA, Tier 1 screening data are the best way to determine […]

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30
Jun

EPA Solicits Public Input on Protecting Monarchs from Herbicide Impacts

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2015) As the Monarch butterfly suffers serious decline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering  the role of  herbicides in killing the iconic species’ food source, milkweed, and developing an action plan that may fall short. The agency identified possible action that it may take to slow the Monarchs’ decline in a document released last week entitled Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly (Monarch Approach document). EPA’s approach to Monarch conservation comes shortly after the White House released its National Pollinator Health Strategy, intended to “reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also in the midst of conducting a review of the Monarch butterfly to determine whether the species is eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The number of Monarchs reaching their winter breeding grounds in Mexico has fallen by 90% in less than 20 years. This year’s population was the second lowest since surveys began two decades ago. The critical driver of this decline has been linked to the loss of milkweed, the only plant on which Monarchs will lay their eggs, along their migration route, which […]

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29
Jun

Neonicotinoids Hinder Bee’s Ability to Smell Flowers

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2015) A recent study has provided supporting evidence to previous work showing that sublethal doses of imidicloprid, a toxic neonicotinoid insecticide, impairs olfactory learning in exposed honey bee workers. 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. “Honeybees need to learn to associate nectar reward with floral odor. One of the main reasons why flowers produce odor is so that this odor can be learned by pollinators and used to repeatedly visit the same flower species. Without this repeat visitation, pollination does not occur. We showed that a neonicotinoid pesticide, at sublethal doses, harms this odor memory formation,”  Chinese Academy of Science’s Ken Tan, who led the study, told CBS News in an email interview. Published in Nature on June 18, 2015, the study finds that “adults that ingested […]

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25
Jun

Atrazine and Glyphosate To Be Analyzed by EPA for Impacts on 1,500 Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2015) The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday that it will analyze the effects of two of the most commonly used pesticides in the United States, glyphosate and atrazine, along with atrazine chemical-cousins propazine and simazine, for their impacts on 1,500 endangered plants and animals. The announcement marks an agreement between EPA and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on a proposed settlement amending a 2010 court order that  established a schedule to complete effects determinations for 75 chemicals on 11 species in the San Francisco (SF) Bay Area. According to EPA, 59 of the 75 pesticides have been evaluated and subject to  effects determinations, however for the remaining 16 pesticides, EPA and CBD agreed that it would be more efficient and environmentally significant to complete nationwide effects determinations, rather than limit their focus to the SF bay area listed species. The agency has committed to completing the assessments by June 2020. The initial lawsuit was filed by CBD in May 2007 against EPA for violating the Endangered Species Act by registering and allowing the use of scores of toxic pesticides in habitats for 11 San Francisco Bay Area endangered species without determining whether the chemicals […]

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22
Jun

New Studies Identify Fungicides as a Factor in Declining Bee Health

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2015) Two new studies raise concerns over the connection between the use of fungicides and the declining overall health of bee colonies. While  the use of neonicotinoid insecticides has been established as a  primary contributor  to declining pollinator populations, these new studies shine a light on the use of fungicides and the negative impacts their use has on overall bee health. The first study was performed after a group of local farmers asked researchers at the University of Wisconsin to assess whether it was safe to spray fungicides on crops while they are in bloom and bees are foraging. Because insecticides, like neonicotinoids, are meant to kill insects, researchers have performed numerous studies on how the use of these insecticides may harm beneficial insects as well as those they are intended to target. Fungicides, however, are not meant to kill insects, so the relationship between their use and effects on bee populations is relatively unstudied. Researcher Hannah Gaines Day, Ph.D., an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin, cautions that her team’s study, which involved five bumblebee colonies kept in field enclosures where flowers were sprayed with field-realistic doses of chlorothalonil, a  common fungicide, was small and […]

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18
Jun

Bee Pollination Important to Biodiversity, Not Just Ecosystem Services

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2015) A major international study on bee pollination involving 58 researchers finds that astonishingly few bee species are responsible for pollinating crops worldwide, and offers compelling economic rationale for conserving wild bees. The study, published in Nature Communications, calculates that the value of wild bee pollination to the global food system at $3,000 per hectare of insect-pollinated agricultural land, a number in the billions globally. However, research also indicates that just two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide. While the study shows that contribution of wild bees to crop production is significant, researchers warn that conserving the biological diversity of bees requires more than just ecosystem-service-based arguments. “Rare and threatened species may play a less significant role economically than common species, but this does not mean their protection is less important,” says Professor David Kleijn, PhD of the Netherlands’ Wageningen University, who led the study. The economic benefits to people from nature —such as crop pollination, water purification, and carbon storage— are increasingly known as ecosystem services. The fact that nature provides these services has increasingly been used as a reason to protect the environment and its biodiversity. Research strongly […]

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