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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


01
Feb

North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property.  The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority. With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near […]

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31
Jan

Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows California to List Glyphosate Products as Cancer Causing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2017) A tentative ruling last week by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan moves California closer to listing glyphosate (Roundup) as a carcinogen under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate under its Roundup brand, sued California to stop the listing, as it would require cancer warning labels be placed on its end-use product. The company indicates it will challenge the tentative ruling. California’s proposed to list glyphosate as a carcinogen after a 2015 determination of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a United Nations body under the World Health Organization, that the chemical is a cancer-causing agent for humans based on laboratory studies. Monsanto refutes these claims, and since the determination has worked directly, and through proxy organizations, to discredit and attack IARC, as well as individual scientists that have participated in its decision-making process. Shortly after IARC’s Monograph on glyphosate, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a Monsanto-supported group, released a report dismissing glyphosate’s link to cancer. In October of last year, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz […]

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24
Jan

University Scientists Dispute Syngenta Study Conclusion that Pesticide Is Low Risk to Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2017) An analysis conducted by scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is calling into question the conclusions reached in a study conducted by multinational chemical company Syngenta, which indicated that honey bees were not at risk from the widely used neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam. The challenge to the Pilling et al 2013 study is important because while many experiments have been performed in the lab or semi-lab environment, this study was a field experiment developed to test pollinator exposure under normal agricultural conditions. The conclusions of such real-world experiments are weighed more heavily by regulators when making safety and use determinations. St. Andrews’ scientists focus in on the Pilling et al claim that because its study did not have high levels of replication, that it would have been misleading to perform formal statistical analysis. They respond that this would indeed be the case if Pilling et al had intended on finding statistical significance and concluded that there was no effect based on those tests. However, Syngenta’s scientists instead simply graphed average values over time based on their measurements (measurements such as number of bees in a hive, hive weight, number of brood, etc.), and compared […]

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23
Jan

EPA Finds Widely Used Pesticides Could Harm 97 Percent of Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its final Biological Evaluations of Three Chemicals’ Impacts on Endangered Species, which finds that chlorpyrifos and malathion likely have detrimental effect on 97 percent of all species listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while diazinon adversely affects 78 percent. According to EPA’s release on the subject, this is the “first-ever draft biological evaluations analyzing the nation-wide effects” of these registered chemicals on endangered species after decades of widespread use. The evaluations stem from a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in which CBD sued EPA in April 2014 for its failure to comply with ESA, which requires the agency to carry out consultations with federal wildlife agencies while registering pesticides. According to Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a CBD senior scientist, “We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use. The EPA is providing a reasonable assessment of those risks, many of which can be […]

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17
Jan

EPA Finds Risks to Bees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides, Fails to Act Accordingly

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2017) On January 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released major risk assessment documents on  pollinator exposure to bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides finding no significant risks, despite the large and growing body of science identifying the pesticides’ hazards. In the documents, EPA identifies risks posed to bees by several neonicotinoid insecticides, but suggests that no restriction on uses are imminent. In another decision meant to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides, the agency is scaling back its original proposal in deference chemical-intensive agricultural interests. EPA’s long awaited pollinator assessments for the neonicotinoids: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, much like the 2016 pollinator assessment release for imidacloprid, identifies risks to bees from the agricultural applications (foliar, soil and seed) of these chemicals, including from pesticide drift. Observed effects include decline in worker bees, and subsequent declines in brood and pollen stores in the colony. EPA‘s assessments continue to focus on honey bees, with cursory mention of wild, native bees. Once again, the assessments did not consider risks from exposures to contaminated water, guttation droplets, or soil, with EPA stating that, “The Agency lacks information to understand the relative importance of these other routes of exposures and/or to quantify potential risks […]

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13
Jan

EPA Announcement on Bee-Toxic Pesticides At Odds with Latest Independent Science on Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2016) Just prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement on January 12 that several neonicotinoid insecticides “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies,” the preprint version of a new review of neonics identified the range of lethal and sublethal effects of the chemicals on non-target organisms.  The review, The Environmental Risks of Neonicotinoid Pesticides: a review of the evidence post-2013, authored by Dave Goulson, PhD, and Thomas James Wood, a PhD candidate, concludes that studies published since the 2013 European Food Safety (EFSA) published risk assessments show even greater risks. The EFSA assessment, which led to a moratorium on neonicotinoid uses, found that certain neonics on specific flowering crops pose a high risk to bees. With reference to the 2013 EFSA risk assessment conclusions as their baseline, the researchers summarize the difference in risk for certain categories, including: “Risk of exposure from and uptake of neonicotinoids in non-crop plants. Uptake of neonicotinoids by non-target plants was considered likely to be negligible, though a data gap was identified. Many studies have since been published demonstrating extensive uptake of neonicotinoids and their presence in the pollen, nectar and foliage of wild plants. Exposure from non-target plants clearly represents a Greater […]

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12
Jan

Rusty Patch Bumblebee Officially Listed as an Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2017) Yesterday marked a monumental event in the fight against pollinator declines, as the rusty patched bumblebee became the first bee species to officially be declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). According to FWS, endangered species designations are made when a species is “in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.” Tom Melius, Service Midwest Regional Director for FWS, stated in a press release that, when it comes to this determination, “[FWS’s] top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help [the agency] mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.” Listed yesterday in the Federal Register, the ruling will go into effect February 10, 2017. This is a victory for environmental groups who have fought to protect the rusty patched bumble bee from widespread threats, such as habitat loss and pesticide use. According to FWS, the rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread across the United States and parts of Canada, but declined dramatically in the 1990s.  Since then, their populations have dwindled and their overall decline is estimated at 91 […]

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10
Jan

More Evidence Neonics Inhibit Social Behavior and Pollination Skills in Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2017) Exposure to neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leads to a decrease in pollination frequency and fewer social interactions in bumblebees, according to research published by scientists from Harvard University and University of California, Davis. The study, released last year but presented this week at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting, underscores the need for regulators and policy makers to eliminate use of these chemicals, not only to protect honey bees, but also wild pollinators like the bumblebee. While worker bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) divide their tasks within the colony in a similar manner to honey bees, their nests appear quite different than their more structured cousins. “Bumblebee nests are not the organized, beautiful geometry of the honeybee,” said James Crall, PhD candidate in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Instead, “They’re more a hodge-podge of food and larvae in a pile in the middle of the nest space.” For their study, researchers placed four bumblebee colonies in a mesh enclosed area, tagged each bee, and observed them foraging on tomato flowers grown in a pollinator-excluding greenhouse (to ensure bees had freshly-opened flowers for pollination each day). After observing normal behavior, bees within each colony […]

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06
Jan

Introducing Polli-NATION: Celebrating Unsung Pollinator Heroes

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2017) When it comes to pollination, bees tend to get all of the buzz. While they are crucial to pollinating many crops, it is important to note that bees aren’t the only pollinators working hard to provide the ecosystem services we rely on to support our food system. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by pollinators. In order to raise awareness for the unsung pollinator heroes all around us, Beyond Pesticides created the Polli-NATION Campaign, which highlights the important work of a relatively unknown pollinator each month. With it, we will raise public awareness about these pollinators, their contribution to plant health and productivity and the preservation of natural resources, and the threats they face in their daily lives, including toxic pesticides and habitat loss. Polli-NATION members include species like butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles, birds, bats, and more. By taking the time to read about our featured Polli-NATION pollinator, you will not only learn about the many diverse species we call pollinators, but also discover what you can do in your daily life to help ensure their survival. Our pollinator of the month is the bee fly! […]

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03
Jan

Herbicide Atrazine Affects Estuarine Phytoplankton Productivity, Threatens Aquatic Life

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2017)  A study published in December 2016 in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled The Effect of Atrazine on Louisiana Gulf Coast Estuarine Phytoplankton, finds that phytoplankton in estuaries in close proximity to agricultural operations are less productive than phytoplankton in an uncontaminated environment. The study examines three different estuaries of the Mississippi river in Louisiana and also evaluates microcosms with different concentrations of atrazine. Phytoplankton, incredibly important to estuary ecosystems and aquatic life, are an integral part of the aquatic food web and ultimately critical to the wild seafood market. As photosynthetic microorganisms, phytoplankton harness the sun’s energy for metabolism and create as a byproduct of photosynthesis dissolved oxygen, which oxygen-breathing sea life require. For the study, the researchers created microcosms, or large containers that are able to closely mimic ecosystems, so that they can observe the effects of independent variables. On average, phytoplankton in the microcosms are less productive at producing chlorophyll a in the presence of atrazine. The microcosm study design is important because it is difficult to separate and measure the effects of chemicals like atrazine in the environment, given the range of potential causes of phytoplankton decline. A variety of factors, like freshwater discharge rates, precipitation, […]

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24
Dec

Successes of the Past Help Meet Challenges of the Future: Have a Healthy New Year

(Beyond Pesticides, December 24, 2016) Beyond Pesticides thanks our members and supporters for being a part of a critical movement to advance sustainable and organic land and building management in 2016. As our Daily News takes a holiday break, returning Tuesday, January 3, 2017, we hope you will join us in reflecting on the progress made this year, and the critical challenges that lie ahead. The road ahead We are entering a period in our nation’s history with many serious concerns about the protection of public health and the environment. We have heard the President-elect’s rhetoric about the overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the burden of regulatory compliance, and the need to dismantle environmental programs. The nominee for EPA Administrator is on record as challenging science and the value of environmental protection. In contrast, we have learned over the last several decades that protection of the environment contributes to a productive economy and healthier people. Beyond Pesticides’ databases track the scientific literature on pesticide hazards and alternatives, which clearly document the value of healthy ecosystems in providing ecosystem services that translate to reduced costs for farmers and land managers. Whether we’re talking about bees and other pollinators or predator insects, […]

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22
Dec

Washington DC Limits Toxic Pesticide Use on Public and Private Land

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2016) Legislation passed Monday in the District of Columbia stops the use of toxic pesticides near schools, child-occupied facilities, waterbody-contingent property, and public property. The Pesticide Education and Control Amendment Act (PECCA) of 2016 (Bill B21-0580), passed unanimously by the District Council, strengthens previous law to protect children and residents living in Washington DC from unnecessary pesticide exposure. The law places the District at the forefront with other communities around the country that are phasing out the use of toxic pesticides in building and land management. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Mary Cheh, clarifies certain provisions of the original PECCA passed in 2012, which had not been implemented by the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) in accordance with the original spirit and intent of the law. The new law clarifies the department responsibility to prohibit all pesticide use near schools and waterbody-contingent properties, except a defined list of material allowed in organic land management. The law is intended to effect a transition to sustainable and cost-effective insect and weed management practices in the District. Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, said: “This law protects vulnerable populations, like children, from the dangers of unnecessary toxic […]

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20
Dec

EPA Glyphosate Cancer Panel Considers Data, Public Input with Mixed Response; Recommendation to Follow

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2016) A long-awaited and contentious scientific meeting convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate wrapped up its review last week, with the 15-member scientific advisory panel split on their determination,  and some considering a “suggestive evidence” classification. The panel’s charge was to evaluate EPA’s recent proposal that the widely used herbicide should be considered “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” despite a 2015 determination from the International Agency for Research on Cancer than glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” with “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity” based on laboratory studies.  The panel now has roughly three months to provide a final recommendation to the agency, which is likely to influence EPA’s final classification of the herbicide. The meeting was split into four days, with one and a half days committed to the panel receiving public comments. As veteran reporter Cary Gillam notes in The Huffington Post, representatives from Monsanto were allotted over three hours to provide evidence against a cancer determination, while public health advocates including Beyond Pesticides and allies were only allotted between 5-15 minutes to make their case. [Read Beyond Pesticides’ comments to the Glyphosate Review Panel here.] Monsanto, for its […]

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15
Dec

EPA Rule Tightens Use of Highest Toxicity Pesticides as Advocates Question Their Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2016) On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Certification of Pesticide Applicators final rule on restricted use pesticides (RUP) for publication in the Federal Register. According to EPA, the rule creates a national minimum age requirement of 18 for certified applicators, requires all applicators to renew their certifications every five years, and establishes “first time annual safety training for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.” States have up to three years to create their programs to implement the new rules for RUPs, and can build upon existing programs if they are equivalent or exceed the updated standards. While EPA’s rule represents a tightening of the restricted use provision, critics have long maintained that all persons handling restricted use pesticides —including those who work for companies that work in and around  homes and communities— should be certified because the supervision requirement does not ensure adequate oversight and protection. Those supervising non-certified applicators are not required to be on site, but, can be in telephone contact. Restricted use pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, and may only be applied by a certified pesticide applicator or a non-certified […]

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14
Dec

Study Links Neonicotinoid Exposure to Learning Deficit in Bees

(Beyond Pestimcides,  December 14, 2016) Preliminary research presented this week at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting identifies yet another troublesome connection between the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and the health of bees, a critical pollinator species. The research links neonicotinoid use with an impaired ability of bees to learn to vibrate flowers and shake out the pollen, which is necessary for fertilization in crops like tomatoes and potatoes. This research is consistent with other studies that link neonicotinoid use to reduced learning in bees, as well as other impacts such as those on their colony size and  reproduction, as well as contributions to overall declines. Neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides are a relatively new class of chemicals that affect plants in a systemic way, moving through the plants vacular system and expressed through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets.  These pesticides, :which include  imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, have been found by  a growing body of scientific literature  to be linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where bees experience rapid declines from hive abandonment and bee die-off,  and  pollinator decline in general.  Neonics are associated with  decreased foraging  and navigational ability, as well as increased vulnerability to pathogens and parasites as a […]

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08
Dec

Delaware Pollinator Protection Plan, Like Other State Plans, Fails to Eliminate Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2016) On Monday, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) released its Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, which allows for the continuation of widespread pesticide use in landscapes across the state. The plan includes voluntary strategies for farmers, beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators, but fails to include any recommendations for reducing or eliminating toxic pesticide use. DDA resorts to recommending approaches that include “best management practices,” strategies to increase pollinator forage on public and private lands, and advocating for the use of Driftwatch, an online initiative that focuses on pesticide drift. Driftwatch is a voluntary effort run by the non-profit, Fieldwatch, which, according to its website, was created by Purdue University Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Agricultural Communications departments and  Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialists  “to help pesticide applicators and specialty crop growers communicate more effectively to promote awareness and stewardship activities to help prevent and manage drift effects.” Like other state pollinator protection plans,  there is little mention of pesticides, despite the fact that neonicotinoids (neonics) are highly toxic, persistent and systemic pesticides that have been widely implicated as a leading factor in pollinator decline. According to environmentalists and beekeepers, little meaningful action has been taken to […]

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07
Dec

Local Pesticide Policy Reform Mapping Tool Launched; Sign Petition and Join the Campaign

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2016)  Two national non-profit advocacy groups, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today launched the Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a resource for communities and activists that documents pesticide policies adopted by local communities to protect people, pollinators and the environment. The map spotlights over 115 communities in 21 states that have taken local action to protect their communities from the adverse effects of pesticides by substituting a range of alternative tactics, from eliminating highly toxic chemicals to the adoption of organic practices. Beyond Pesticides are inviting people across the country to sign a national petition in support of the transition to organic land management. “The Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a continuously updated resource, reflects the wave of change occurring nationwide as local and state policymakers take steps to provide protections to people and the environment that are not provided by federal policy,” said Drew Toher, public education associate for Beyond Pesticides. “The policies adopted so far reveal a strong desire by local governments to advance practices that promote nontoxic alternatives to the toxic weed- and pest-management practices increasingly seen as destructive to the health of humans and their environment.” “Meaningful change […]

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01
Dec

European Court Decision Rules in Favor of Increased Pesticide Transparency

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2016)  A groundbreaking decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last Wednesday ruled in favor of the environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) and Greenpeace Nederland, which had been denied access to industry studies and other information submitted by chemical companies to European regulators on the controversial weedkiller glyphosate  and the bee-toxic insecticide imidacloprid. In the two judgments  regarding public access to underlying environmental effects information on chemicals, ECJ clarified the meaning of “emissions into the environment” and “information on [or which relates to] emissions into the environment” within the EU regulation. The Court found that “emissions into the environment” includes releases from pesticide products or active ingredients contained in these products, as long as the release is possible under realistic conditions of use of this product. It interpreted the “information on emissions into the environment” to cover information relating to the nature, composition, and quantity of those emissions, but also “information enabling the public to check whether the assessment [is correct], as well as the data relating to the medium or long-term effects of those emissions.” This decision will allow for any interested party to obtain industry studies and underlying […]

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29
Nov

Health Canada Proposes to Ban Most Uses of the Toxic Insecticide Imidacloprid

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2016) Last week, Health Canada announced its intent to cancel nearly all uses of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid after determining that the chemical poses unacceptable risks to the environment. Although imidacloprid and other pesticides in the neonicotinoid chemical class are  notorious for their harmful impact to pollinators, Health Canada’s decision to eliminate most uses of the chemical is based primarily on the danger it poses to aquatic insects. Environmental groups throughout the world are praising the proposal, but cautioning against the long, three to five year phase out period proposed by the agency. There is concern that the phase out  will permit continued environmental damage, and provide time for other toxic insecticides with similar systemic properties to replace imidacloprid. Advocates are urging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete its full assessment of imidacloprid and follow Canada’s lead in eliminating this toxic chemical. Imidacloprid  breaks down slowly in the environment and has a strong propensity to move through soil and into ground and surface water. Health Canada indicates that water quality monitoring data frequently detects the chemical in waterways at levels that poses unacceptable risks to aquatic insects. The agency was unable to attribute the source […]

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28
Nov

Court Fails to Provide Redress for Beekeeper Damages Caused by Regulatory Gaps

(Beyond Pesticides,  November 28, 2016) Last week, a  federal judge effectively  rubber stamped  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies that allow seeds to be coated with bee-toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides, persistent in water and soil, are associated with acute bee kills, widespread pollinator declines and environmental damage. The Judge’s Order was issued on Nov. 21 in the case of  Anderson et al. v. McCarthy, No. 3:16-cv-00068-WHA (N.D. Cal.). “It is astounding that a judge, EPA or anyone with any common sense would not regulate this type of toxic pesticide use, especially when the seed-coatings are so broadly applied and there is so much at risk. Study after study has shown that seeds coated with these chemicals are a major culprit in catastrophic bee-kills. Now more than ever our country’s beekeepers, environment and food system deserve protection from agrichemical interests, and it is EPA’s job to deliver it,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Director of Center for Food Safety. The neonicotinoids share a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in  paralysis and death. They include  imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Neonicotinoid pesticides have  consistently been implicated  as a key contributor […]

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03
Nov

Lawsuit Challenges “Pure” and “Natural” Label on Honey Contaminated with Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides,  November 3, 2016) Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), represented by Richman Law Group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in Superior Court in the District of Columbia against Sioux Honey Association, for the deceptive and misleading labeling of its Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s honey brands. The suit follows news that Sue Bee honey products labeled “100% Pure” and “Natural” tested positive for glyphosate residue. Glyphosate, a known endocrine disrupter and, according to the World Health Organization, a probable human carcinogen, is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup ® herbicide. “A consumer seeing the words ”˜Pure,’ ”˜100% Pure’ or ”˜Natural’ on a honey product would reasonably expect that product to contain nothing other than honey,” said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. “Regardless of how these products came to be contaminated, Sioux Honey has an obligation to either prevent the contamination, disclose the contamination, or at the very least, remove these deceptive labels.” Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, said: “We join and support those beekeepers who are working to stop hazardous pesticides uses that cause widespread contamination of crops, including honey. Until U.S. regulatory agencies prohibit Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate from selling pesticides that […]

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01
Nov

Genetically Engineered Crops Fail to Increase Yields and Reduce Pesticide Use, Exposé Reveals

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2016) A report published this weekend in The New York Times finds that the shift to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the United States and Canada over the past two decades has increased the use of pesticides in North America, and failed to produce any significant yield increases. When the technology was first introduced, multinational agrichemical companies claimed just the opposite would occur- yields would spike and pesticide use would be minimized. As far back as 1998, Beyond Pesticides asked, “Is the failed pesticide paradigm being genetically engineered?” As the Times and numerous other publications before it have found, the answer was and still is yes. The far-ranging expose by the Times on the state of the GE industry used publicly available data from the United Nations to compare yields between that of Europe and North America. Their data show “no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre” for the United States and Canada over Western Europe during the time of GE crop adoption. A comparison between rapeseed yields in Canada and Western Europe shows increases in both regions, with Europe’s yields consistently higher, independent of the use of GE crops. For corn, gains in […]

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31
Oct

Report Reveals Food Retailers Failing Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2016) Only three of the top 20 food retailers receive a passing grade when it comes to their pollinator protection policies, according to a report released by Friends of the Earth. Swarming the Aisles; Rating Top Retailers on Bee-Friendly and Organic Food takes a closer look at the policies and practices of food retailers across the country and creates an industry scorecard highlighting how each individual retailer fairs in categories like organics, pollinator protection, and pesticide reduction. While some individual chains performed well, overall the results indicate that food retailers have a long way to go to meet consumer demand when it comes to protecting pollinators and establishing organic policies. Major retailers often lag behind public opinion when it comes to changing their official policies to promote practices that protect environmental interests. In 2014, Friends of the Earth, Beyond Pesticides and allies released a report showing that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain  neonicotinoid  (neonic) pesticides ”” a key contributor to recent bee declines, despite the fact more than half a million Americans had signed petitions demanding […]

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