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Archive for the 'Wildlife/Endangered Sp.' Category


17
Jun

Bee Protective this Pollinator Week!

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2015) This week, June 15- 21, 2015, marks Pollinator Week — a week celebrating the importance of pollinators: bees, birds, butterflies, and others, and their contribution to agriculture, food, and natural ecosystems. In light of the shortcomings of federal action to protect these beneficial creatures, it is left up to us to ensure that we provide safe havens for pollinators by creating pesticide-free habitat and educating others to do the same. This week we urge you to join us in celebrating these amazing creatures and creating safe havens for them. Beyond Pesticides’ Bee Protective campaign has all the tools and tips you need to support pollinators in and around your home, school and community. Here’s the buzz on the festivities hosted by Beyond Pesticides and allies during Pollinator Week June 15th- 21st, 2015. Join the Twitter Chat on Wednesday 17th 5pm PT/8pm ET and help #BuildTheBuzz. Have Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, TakePart and others answer your questions about pollinators and what you can do in your community to help increase awareness, advocate for policy change, and create safe pollinators habitat. Join us tonight at 5pm PT/8pm ET by using the hashtag […]

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09
Jun

Wild Bees’ Numbers Plummet as Pesticide Use Increases

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2015) Agricultural pesticides are sprayed intensively throughout the growing season in New York’s conventional apple orchards. Researchers at Cornell University found that as the use of pesticides on these farms increased, the abundance of wild bees declined significantly. The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, focuses on the effects of conventional pesticide use on wild bees, which have often been overlooked in the midst of an ongoing crisis with managed honey bee colonies. “Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being,” said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper’s first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology PhD graduate student. Ms. Park and her colleagues analyzed wild bee populations on 19 apples orchards across the state of New York between 2011 and 2012. Data was broken down by class of pesticide (fungicide, insecticide, herbicides), and timing of applications (before, during, and after flower bloom). Researchers also analyzed the percentage of natural areas within the surrounding landscape. The study uncovered a number of […]

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01
Jun

EPA’s “New” Restrictions Fail to Protect Honey Bees as Promised

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2015) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal intended to create “physical and temporal space” between bees and toxic pesticides. While touted as monumental progress on bee health by the agency, the reality is that the proposal will only result in modest changes to pesticide labels. EPA’s new rules contain only a temporary ban on foliar applications of acutely bee-toxic pesticide products, including neonicotinoid class insecticides, during bloom and when a beekeeper is on site and under contract. The proposal doesn’t address the widespread contamination and detrimental effects of these toxic, systemic (whole plant poisons) chemicals that will continue to occur even during the temporary prohibition. Media reports have generally overstated the implications of the proposal, applauding the “new” restrictions, and labeling the small portion of agricultural land that is affected  as “pesticide-free zones,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. The restrictions are not anything new — EPA pesticide labels already prohibit applications while in bloom where bees are foraging. Neal Bergman, a commercial beekeeper in Missouri, said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the proposal is “basically enforcing label guidelines,” further highlighting the fact that EPA has failed […]

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15
May

Groups’ Petition to Ban Harmful Antibacterial Pesticide Rejected by EPA

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2015) ­ ­ ­In a response that took over five years, yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its long-awaited response to a Citizen Petition filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, denying the request to cancel registered products that contain the antibacterial pesticide triclosan, often sold under the trade name microban. The decision allows this toxic substance to continue to be sold nationwide in common household products, from toys, cutting boards, hair brushes, sponges, computer keyboards to socks and undergarments. The agency did, however, grant one request, and will evaluate and conduct a biological assessment of the potential for effects on listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the ongoing triclosan registration review. The cosmetic uses of triclosan, such as toothpaste and liquid soaps, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and subject to a separate petition for which there has been no response since its filing in 2005 and again in 2009. “Numerous studies have shown that antibacterial soaps cause more harm than any of their perceived benefits,” said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director  at Beyond Pesticides. “For the protection of human health and the environment, we […]

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14
May

With Second Highest Honey Bee Losses, Congressional Hearing Ignores Pesticide Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2015) For the first time on record, summer losses of managed honey bee colonies have exceeded winter losses, according to preliminary results of the annual survey released yesterday by the Bee Informed Partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America. This is the second highest annual loss recorded to date: beekeepers lost a total of 42.1 percent of the number of colonies managed over the last year (total annual loss, between April 2014 and April 2015), which is up from 34.2 percent for the previous year. On the same day that this survey was released, the  U.S.  House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Biotechnology and Research held a hearing on pollinator health, but failed to advance policy solutions that would protect pollinators from the unnecessary use of pesticides. “What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” Keith Delaplane, PhD at the University of Georgia and one of the co-authors of the study told Phys.Org. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.” About two-thirds of the beekeepers responding to the survey […]

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08
May

Groups Urge Investigation of USDA Censorship of Its Scientists

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2015) A diverse group of environmentalists, beekeepers, farm workers, and advocates, along with Beyond Pesticides, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health this Tuesday, urging a thorough investigation into recent reports that USDA scientists are being harassed and censored. The letter expresses particular concern over the suppression of research related to bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides and glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, which has been linked to cancer. The White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, co-chaired by USDA, is expected to release a plan on bee protection in the near future; the more than 25 groups, which include farmers, fisheries, and food safety advocates, are concerned that the plan will lack meaningful protections if USDA’s research has been compromised. In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Group (PEER), an advocacy group for government researchers, filed a petition for rule-making with USDA seeking new rules to strengthen USDA’s Scientific Integrity Policy, and urging the agency to adopt best practices used in other federal agencies in order to prevent political suppression or alteration of studies. USDA adopted a new […]

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07
May

Tests Confirm Rare Cancer in Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2015) The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has confirmed that a rare malignant tumor was found on a smallmouth bass caught in the Susquehanna River by an angler late last summer. The finding was confirmed by two independent laboratory tests, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Michigan State University.  Although it only represents one individual fish from the overall population, it provides additional evidence —which includes the prevalence of intersex fish discovered last summer”” that the health of the fish community residing in the river is being compromised, according to PFBC executive director John Arway. Though the findings do not point to a specific cause for the cancer found on the smallmouth bass (SMB), agricultural pesticides, particularly endocrine disrupting chemicals, that have been found in the watershed, likely play a part in the rampant disease issues in SMB in the Susquehanna River. “As we continue to study the river, we find young-of-year and now adult bass with sores, lesions and more recently a cancerous tumor, all of which continue to negatively impact population levels and recreational fishing,” Mr. Arway said. “The weight-of-evidence continues to build a […]

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06
May

Boulder, CO Passes “Bee Safe” Resolution Restricting Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2015) The City of Boulder, Colorado yesterday became the most recent locality in the U.S. to restrict the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides  on city property. The resolution moved forward primarily as a result of efforts by grassroots activists with the local organization Bee Safe Boulder, but also received strong support from city officials. “We at Bee Safe Boulder, along with city staff and elected city council members, believe that this resolution will become the go-to template for other local governments with similar aspirations in the near future,” said David Wheeler, co-founder of the local group. Under the new resolution, Boulder has committed to: Not applying neonicotinoid pesticides to city property; Encouraging “all related parties,” including county, state, and federal governments and private individuals to suspend their use of neonicotinoids until a thorough review is completed and a public health and environmental assessment can prove their safety; Seeking out plants and seeds not treated with neonicotinoids, and encouraging all businesses, homeowners, and HOAs within the city to make efforts to ensure no neonic-containing products are sold or used within the city; Engaging in efforts to educate the broader community about reducing neonicotinoid pesticides, and encouraging […]

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05
May

Plans to Spray Toxic Insecticide in Washington Bays Are Canceled

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2015) In a major  victory for the environment and health, the Washington state Department of Ecology (Ecology) and oyster growers association agreed to withdraw a permit allowing the use of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid to control burrowing shrimp in oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The decision was reached in large part due to vocal public outrage over the plan, as consumers, environmental organizations, and prominent local chefs spoke out against the spraying. “One of our agency’s goals is to reduce toxics in our environment,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon in a News Release published by the agency over the weekend. “We’ve heard loud and clear from people across Washington that this permit didn’t meet their expectations, and we respect the growers’ response.” In an article published in the Seattle Times Friday, the largest shellfish producer in country, Taylor Shellfish, announced it will not treat its oyster beds with imidacloprid in response to numerous calls, emails, and social media comments made by its customers. “Our customers spoke loud and clear today, and that speaks volumes to us,” said Bill Dewey, spokesman for Taylor Shellfish. Given Taylor Shellfish’s size, it is likely that the Willapa/Grays […]

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29
Apr

Toxic Imidacloprid To Be Sprayed on Oyster Beds in Washington Bays

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2015) Much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, the Washington Department of Ecology (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 in Washington state. Imidacloprid is known to be toxic to bees but is also toxic to aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. The shellfish industry is important to the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated $270 million or more into the region’s economy, and providing jobs for many. Washington’s tidelands, especially those in Willapa Bay, have been particularly productive for more than 100 years. However, according to shellfish growers, the burrowing shrimp (ghost shrimp, Neotrypaea californiensis,  and mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis) undermines the industry. The creatures burrow into shellfish beds, making the beds too soft for shellfish cultivation. Their burrowing churns the tidelands into a sticky muck, smothering the oysters. After several years of deliberations and studies, Ecology identified imidacloprid as its  preferred choice for eradicating the shrimp. According to the agency, imidacloprid disrupts the burrowing shrimps’ […]

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24
Apr

Research Finds Bees Prefer Foods Treated with Bee-Killing Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2015) Two new studies reporting on the adverse effects of neonicotinoids on bees were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, adding to a growing body of scientific literature linking the controversial class of pesticides to the global decline in bee populations. The conclusions reached by the two studies find that not only does neonicotinoid exposure result in reduced bee density, nesting, colony growth, and reproduction, but also that bees in fact prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides despite their adverse effects. Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key issue in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sublethal exposure that causes  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses. In one study, “Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees,” Swedish scientists report that wild bees […]

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06
Apr

Portland, OR to Protect Pollinators, Bans Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2015) Last week, the city council of Portland, Oregon voted unanimously to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on city-owned property because these pesticides are persistent in the environment, harmful to pollinators, and have been involved in acute bee kills in other areas of the state. Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key issue in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sublethal exposure that causes  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees.   Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses. Portland’s ordinance was spurred in part by the 2013 deaths of tens of thousands of bees as a result of the improper use of the neonicotinoids. Last month state officials banned  four   of the bee-killing insecticides, including   imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran from  use on  Linden  trees. In addition to […]

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03
Apr

EPA Announces Moratorium on New Uses of Bee-Killing Pesticides, Coalition Urges Broader Suspension

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2015) Earlier today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a moratorium on new bee- and bird- harming neonicotinoid pesticide products and uses. While supportive of the partial halt on new registrations, farm, beekeeper and environmental groups were have urged EPA to suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market. EPA’s announcement may  foreshadow broader recommendations from the White House Pollinator Health Task Force, according to the alliance. “We need EPA to protect bees and other pollinators from the neonicotinoids and other bee-harming insecticides that are already covering the corn and soybean acres in our area, not just keep new products off the market,” said Joanna Voigt, program and communications coordinator at Kansas Rural Center. “Here at the Kansas Rural Center we work with farmers who rely on pollinators to cultivate crops like squash, blueberries, apples, cucumbers, peppers, sunflowers and more. These farmers deserve more from EPA.” Over 125 farmer, food safety, beekeeper, faith and environmental groups sent a letter to the president last month urging a moratorium on all neonicotinoids and their chemical cousins, other systemic pesticides. Additionally, more than four million Americans signed petitions urging the Obama administration to take […]

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31
Mar

Study Data Analysis Used by UK to Oppose EU Moratorium on Neonics Challenged

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2015) A world renowned entomologist, who reevaluated data from a controversial study on neonicotinoid insecticides, has concluded that UK government scientists misinterpreted the findings when they  concluded that restrictive policy wasn’t necessary on the bee-killing pesticide. David Goulson, Ph.D., a bee researcher and professor at the University of Sussex in Falmer, said the UK was wrong in its position, based on the new analysis. Neonicotinoids have been found by a growing body of scientific literature to be linked to honey bee and pollinator decline. The European Commission voted to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013 for two years. The ban came several months after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report  identifying “high acute risk” to honey bees from uses of certain neonicotinoid chemicals.  However, this action was opposed by the UK government. Despite this opposition, Britain was required  to comply with the ban under European Union (EU) rules. One of the main pieces of evidence informing this opposition is a study published in 2013 by Britain’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), which found  “no clear consistent relationship” between exposure to neonicotinoids and the growth of bee colonies and the number […]

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27
Mar

Portland, Oregon to Vote on Neonic Ban on City Property

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2015) Portland, Oregon is considering a ban on neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides linked to bee deaths, from use on city property. If the measure passes, Portland will join a long list of towns and communities, including Eugene (Oregon),  Skagway (Alaska),  and, in Washington State, Thurston County,  Seattle, and Spokane. Under the proposed ordinance, city officials would not be permitted to use or buy neonicotinoids or similar pesticides on city lands or in city buildings and would urge stores to label products, such as plants and seeds treated with neonicotinoids. The proposal also applies to city contractors. Additionally, the proposed ban on neonicotinoids and neonicotinoid-like insecticides would not apply immediately to two city rose gardens. Officials say the rose midge, a pest, is difficult to eradicate with the insecticide. Instead the city will look for an alternative method using a pilot project at Peninsula Park in North Portland to test alternative non-toxic insecticides. That proposal would be phased in with a deadline of December 2017 to eliminate all neonicotinoid-based products. The proposal cites seven separate bumble bee incidents in Oregon related to the application of neonicotinoids on trees since June 2013, documented by the state’s Department […]

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25
Mar

New Poll Shows Americans Concerned About Bee Declines, Links to Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2015) Several environmental and food safety groups released new polling data which shows the public believes bee decline issues are critical and linked to pesticide use. This comes as concerned citizens flooded the White House this week with more than 3,500 phone calls demanding action against bee-harming chemicals, ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to protect America’s imperiled pollinators. The poll released yesterday was conducted by the firm FM3 and is being distributed in anticipation of recommendations from the  White House Pollinator Health Task Force. Last year, the President charged this inter-agency task force ””led jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)”” with implementing a plan to improve the health of bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinating species. According to the poll, an overwhelming majority (86%) say that honey bees and other pollinators are important to our nation’s food supply. More than half of the survey respondents (56%) consider the declining populations of honey bees and other pollinators to be a serious problem ””following only concerns around health care costs (76%) and jobs and the economy (75%), and on par with the problem of gas prices (55%). […]

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23
Mar

Take Action! Join the national call-in to President Obama to save our bees

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2015) The fight to save our bees and other pollinators is at a critical moment. The Obama Administration charged federal agencies with  improving pollinator health this last June, and now, after months of delay, the President’s plan is expected imminently. Your voice is needed because  the chemical  companies that manufacture bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, Bayer and Syngenta, have been working aggressively to  stop the President from taking action to restrict their chemicals, despite the critical threat they pose to bee health. A  week ago, more than four million Americans called on President Obama to take swift action to protect bees from toxic pesticides, and Beyond Pesticides joined with allies to rally in front of the White House to reinforce  this important message. We urgently need to ramp up pressure on the Obama administration to do the right thing for bees and our food system. Call President Obama’s office TODAY to deliver this message. It’s easy, we’ll patch you straight through. Call details: Call number: 1-877-796-1948 Just dial the number, you’ll hear an automated message with instructions and then be patched through to the White House to deliver your urgent message. When you’re connected to the White House, […]

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19
Mar

Final Suit Routing Genetically Engineered Crops and Related Practices from Refuges

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

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06
Mar

Oregon Bans Four Bee-Killing Insecticides on Linden Trees

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2015) Last Friday, Oregon enacted a new rule which bans the use of four types of bee-killing insecticides, including  imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran, regardless of application method on linden trees and other Tilia species. The four insecticides that are now illegal to spray on Tilia trees are all in the neonicotinoid chemical class which are implicated in pollinator decline, and represents a step forward in protecting bees. However, Tilia trees are not the only route of exposure that bees and other pollinators have to neonics, which are currently applied to fields across the U.S. as seed treatment. The rule comes at the request of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) following several bee-kill incidents in Oregon since June 2013, when more than 50,000 bumblebees were killed after dinotefuran was sprayed on trees in a shopping mall parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon. After the incident in Wilsonville, ODA initially placed restrictions on two of the chemicals, dinotefuran and imidacloprid on Tilia trees, and the state launched a task force to look at protections for pollinators. The group came out with a range of recommendations including increased outreach and education about bees and support for bee habitat […]

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04
Mar

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

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

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04
Mar

Over 4 Million People Press Obama to Protect Bees

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

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03
Mar

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

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

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27
Feb

New Research Links Bee-Killing Insecticide to Monarch Butterfly Deaths

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

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