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Daily News Blog

22
Oct

Bill to Protect Pollinators Passes Subcommittee in New Hampshire and Moves Forward

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2019) Last week, legislators in a New Hampshire House subcommittee passed a bill to restrict the use of pesticides implicated in the decline of pollinator populations. HB 646, dubbed the Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act, will now go to executive session on November 7 for final approval prior to a full vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives. If passed through the legislature, New Hampshire would become the fourth state in the nation to curb the use of dangerous pesticides to protect pollinator populations. Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont have all passed similar pieces of legislation. As reported by the state newspaper Union Leader, the pesticide industry came out in strong opposition to the legislation. Arguments from industry proponents focused on teaching lawmakers the controversy over the role pesticides play in pollinator declines, rather than the science on the dangers that these chemicals pose. These forces encouraged inaction, pushing the idea that it would be preferable to endanger the future of New Hampshire’s beekeepers, native pollinators, state bird and other songbirds, rather than encourage an already necessary shift toward safer pest management practices. “For many years the big chemical companies . . .

20
Oct

Take Action: Remove Known Carcinogens from Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2019) USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) should remove nonorganic celery powder from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for use in organic food production. It has been long-established that nitrates and nitrites, used to prevent bacterial growth in processed meats, react with protein to create nitrosamines, which are widely considered to be possible carcinogens. The World Health Organization considers processed meat “a known carcinogen.” Tell NOSB to remove carcinogenic nonorganic celery powder from organic processed meat. For too long the meat industry, including organic processors, have engaged in a form of subterfuge by being able, and in fact required, to label meat preserved with celery powder as “no nitrates or no nitrites added” or “uncured.” The use of conventional celery powder, with amped up applications of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, creates the same functional and biological impacts as synthetic nitrates/nitrates as a meat preservative. The federal laws governing organics are clear. To legally use a synthetic compound, or a natural or agricultural material that is not certified organic, in the production of certified organic product, it must appear on the list of approved substances. And to do so, proposed . . .

18
Oct

EPA Directive to End Animal Testing of Pesticides Welcomed and Challenged as Not Addressing Inadequate Reviews of Adverse Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a directive in September, under Administrator Andrew Wheeler, that changes its pesticide approval process and aims to reduce (mammalian) animal testing significantly by 2035. The agency also announced awards totaling $4.25 million to four universities for development of alternative methods to evaluate chemicals, including pesticides. The move will likely be seen both as an advancement of animal rights, and as a setback for the kinds of testing that can have important implications for human health. Resolution of this issue could be found in a shift away from chemical agriculture and to organic and regenerative practices, which eschew toxic chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, and obviate need for them. The directive affects not only the agency’s own research, but also, as the memo says, EPA will “come as close as possible to excluding from its approval process any reliance on mammal studies conducted after January 1, 2035, including those performed by third parties.” The schools receiving EPA funds to work on alternative testing are Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt’s Medical Center, Oregon State University, and the University of California-Riverside. President of the . . .

17
Oct

Despite Damning Scientific Evidence, EPA Dismisses Link Between Parkinson’s and Exposure to the Herbicide Paraquat

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is downplaying the connection between exposure to the herbicide paraquat and the development of Parkinson’s disease, per registration review documents released by the agency this week. Although unsurprising given the current administration’s track record of defending some of the most heinous chemicals still on the market, the review nonetheless marks a low point for scientific integrity within EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, according to advocates. Health and environmental advocates have already discounted EPA’s industry-biased review, and are instead pushing hard for Congressional action – namely HR 3817, the Protect Against Paraquat Act, introduced by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Under federal law, pesticides are required to undergo reevaluation every 15 years. Paraquat is a potent restricted use herbicide, not available to be applied by residential users, but permitted for use on multiple agriculture crops. Over the last decade, independent peer-reviewed scientific studies have repeatedly found strong associations between paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Many of these studies have been covered in Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News or are recorded in the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. In response to this growing body of literature, EPA conducted an . . .

16
Oct

Organic Poultry Significantly Less Likely than Chemical-Intensive to Contain Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, But Improvements Still Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2019) Organic poultry is far less likely than conventionally raised meats to contain antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, according to research presented last week at a conference for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. With bacterial resistance to common antibiotics on the rise, in large part due to misuse in agriculture, consumers are looking for the best choice to feed themselves and their families. While researchers did find organic poultry production to result in fewer instances of antibiotic resistance, there are still improvements that must be made in organic to further reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat of bacterial resistance and align organic standards with consumer expectations. “Although contamination of retail poultry was found in both conventionally raised and antibiotic-free samples, our results show that Salmonella in poultry produced without antibiotics – based on packaging claims – were significantly less resistant to antibiotics compared with poultry raised using conventional methods,” said Xin Yin, MPH, lead author of the study and DrPH candidate at Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Consumers should read production labels and make informed choices based on the evidence about the risk of poultry contamination with drug-resistant Salmonella.” For the . . .

15
Oct

Take Action: EPA Must Evaluate the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredient Use and Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2019) EPA is requesting comment on its proposal to require data that will help it determine synergistic effects of some pesticides. EPA has received on a pressure on a number of fronts, including a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a report by its own Inspector General, a letter from 35 Congressional Representatives, and research pointing to the unavoidability of synergistic effects—the chemical combinations that cause greater effects when mixed together than the sum of the individual chemical effects. Despite all of the evidence that synergism is the rule rather than the exception, EPA’s consideration focuses on a narrow range of cases in which pesticide product patents make claims of synergy. Tell EPA to always investigate synergy and to determine need for pesticides. One such product is Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D in an attempt to overcome weed resistance. The focus on products and tank mixes where synergism is a selling point brings to light the fact that as a rule, EPA does not request efficacy data in registering pesticides not intended to protect public health. Thus, although required by law to weigh pesticide risks . . .

11
Oct

In Response to a Lawsuit, EPA Proposes Review Process for Evaluating the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients on Nontarget Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2019) The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on a document that describes an “interim process” being used to assess potential synergistic effects of admixtures of pesticide active ingredients on non-target organisms. This interim risk assessment process was catalyzed in part by a 2015 lawsuit brought by a group of non-governmental organizations; that suit cited EPA’s failure to evaluate appropriately the impacts of a new herbicide, Enlist Duo, on non-target species, including some endangered species. EPA’s inattention to synergistic impacts on non-target species has long been a deficiency of EPA’s pesticide review and regulation and a focus for Beyond Pesticides’ work to factor in uncertainties, or unknowns, in registering pesticides under a precautionary approach. Although EPA recognizes that pesticide exposures occur in combinations, it evaluates a very limited number of such interactions. Manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. Increasingly, manufacturers create and market such “twofer” products as responses to the burgeoning issue of plant resistance to individual pesticides. As insects, fungi, weeds, or other “pests” inevitably develop resistance to pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide compounds, the efficacy of . . .

10
Oct

Unauthorized Marijuana Vaping Cartridges Contain Toxic Pesticides and Could Cause Vaping-Related Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2019) Mysterious vaping illnesses across the country could be related to pesticide exposure, among other contaminants in black-market marijuana vaping products. To date, there have been 23 deaths from vaping-related illness, and about 1,100 cases of the illness nationwide. Yesterday, a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx became the youngest person to pass away from the illness. Most patients have reported that they used vape cartridges with THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. NBC News recently commissioned laboratory tests of 18 THC cartridges – three from a legal Californian dispensary and 15 from unlicensed dealers. Cartridges from legal dispensary had no heavy metals, pesticides, or residual solvents. 10 out of the 10 of the black-market products tested were positive for pesticides. CannaSafe, the laboratory, reported that some of the unregulated products contained the fungicide myclobutanil. Heating myclobutanil can cause it to break down into harmful products, including hydrogen cyanide – a known potent carcinogen. Other pesticides detected included mixtures of the following pesticide or pesticide formula ingredient: fipronil, piperonyl butoxide, permethrin, malathion, and others (see full test results here). Melodi Pirzada, M.D., a pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital, called the . . .

09
Oct

Glyphosate, When Combined with Other Stressors, Results in Breast Cancer Development

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2019) Pesticide industry propaganda promoting the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides took another hit last month, as a study published by an international team of researchers found the chemical had the potential to induce breast cancer when combined with other risk factors. The study, Glyphosate Primes Mammary Cells for Tumorigenesis by Reprogramming the Epigenome in a TET3-Dependent Manner, led by scientists from Indiana’s Purdue University and the Institut National de la SantĂ© et de la Recherche MĂ©dicale (INSERM)/Institut de CancĂ©rologie de L’Ouest (ICO) in Nantes, France, provides an important new lens through which to view pesticide-induced cancer development. “This is a major result and nobody has ever shown this before,” says Sophie LeliĂšvre, PhD, a professor of cancer pharmacology in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and co-leader of IBCN. “Showing that glyphosate can trigger tumor growth, when combined with another frequently observed risk, is an important missing link when it comes to determining what causes cancer.” To make their determination, scientists exposed human breast cells low levels of glyphosate every three to four days over the course of 21 days. A control group was also dosed with a known cancer-promoting peptide. Glyphosate . . .

08
Oct

Take Action: Congressional Oversight Needed on Illegal Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production and Resulting Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2019) As medicinal and recreational marijuana continue to be legalized in a growing number of states, concerns about the safety of the burgeoning industry—how the substance is grown, harvested, processed, distributed, sold, and used—have emerged. Pesticides have not been registered for use in cannabis production, yet they are being widely used under state-adopted enforcement levels that imply safety, but not subject to any standard of review that meets pesticide registration standards. Pesticide contamination of medical cannabis is important not only because it introduces toxic chemicals into a medicine, but also because medical cannabis can interfere with the body’s ability to detoxify those pesticides. Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit the activity of enzymes that help detoxify chemicals, which can make pesticides more toxic. Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to hold oversight hearings and request investigations into EPA and state responsibilities to prevent misuse of pesticides on cannabis. New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, pointing to California residue testing results, cites a threat to the medicinal cannabis market. She notes that 84% of 2016 product batches tested were found to harbor pesticide residue; and that in the recent . . .

07
Oct

Banana Workers Made Sterile from Pesticide Sue Dow in France

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2019) Central American agricultural workers, exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s to a highly toxic pesticide, subsequently began suing manufacturers in the mid-1980s, with mixed success. Now, some of those workers have stepped up their game: they have brought suit against three big agrochemical industries in France to try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awarded to them by Nicaraguan courts, but never paid. As reported by The New York Times, “the case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.” Farmworkers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines, West Africa, and the U.S. were exposed to the highly toxic, brominated organochlorine pesticide ingredient, DBCP (dibromochloropropane), from the 1960s until cessation of its use, which has varied from country to country. DBCP was sold in the pesticide products Nemagon and Fumazone as a soil fumigant and nematocide on banana plantations and other crops across Central America (especially), in western Africa, and in Hawaii. As acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DBCP has multiple adverse health impacts: decreased sperm production and mobility, . . .

04
Oct

Court Strikes Down Aerial Pesticide Spray Ban in Lincoln County, Oregon — Challenging Local Rights to Protect Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2019) A Circuit Court judge in Lincoln County, Oregon has overturned a hard-won ban on aerial spraying of pesticides, citing preemption of state law over any local ordinance. In her late-September decision, Judge Sheryl Bachart wrote that Oregon’s Pesticide Control Act “expressly and conclusively displaces any local ordinance regarding pesticide use. The intention of the legislature is apparent and unambiguous.” She noted in her opinion that the Oregon Revised Statutes (the codified laws of the state of Oregon), Chapter 634.057 “prohibits local governments from making any ordinance, rule or regulation governing pesticide sale or use.” Voters in the county approved the subject ban on the aerial spraying of pesticides (Measure 21-177) in 2017, the initiative having been spurred by the work of Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR), a grassroots organization that “seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety.” In its advocacy for the initiative, the group cited both the harm done by aerial pesticide spraying to people and ecosystems, and the injustice of laws — . . .

03
Oct

Study Raises Global Red Flag Regarding Antimicrobial Resistance in Animal Food Production

Fig. 3 Geographic distribution of antimicrobial resistance in LIMCs. (A) P50, the proportion of antimicrobial compounds with resistance higher than 50%. (Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2019) A study in the journal Science focuses on the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to overuse of animal antibiotics in food produced for low- and middle-income countries. Authors conclude, “the portfolio of antimicrobials used to raise animals for food is rapidly getting depleted, with important consequences for animal health, farmers’ livelihoods, and potentially for human health.” Highest resistance rates were observed for the most commonly used antimicrobials in animal production: tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and penicillins. Researchers used data from 901 point prevalence surveys – a data collection tool used to identify number of infections – from low- and middle-income countries that reported antimicrobial resistance rates of common infectious microbes (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella spp.) found in animals raised for food production. Using geospatial models they produced global maps of antimicrobial resistance. The important findings include: From 2000-2018, the proportion of antimicrobial compounds with resistance higher than 50% (P50) increased from 0.15 to 0.41 in chickens and from 0.13 to 0.34 in pigs and plateaued between 0.12 and 0.23 in cattle. . . .

02
Oct

Cardiovascular Disease Tied to Occupational Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2019) New data gleaned from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program — a longitudinal study of men of Japanese descent living on Oahu — demonstrate that occupational exposure to high levels of pesticides can increase risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the forms of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke (CVA, or cerebrovascular accident). Further, researchers determined both that workers who experience high-level exposures may not experience such effects for years afterward, and that the maximum subsequent effects were seen within a decade of exposure. The study’s conclusion highlights the importance of pesticide applicator use of protective gear when handling toxic pesticides. These risks and harms could be eliminated through a transition to non-chemical means for pest control in agriculture, land management, and home and personal practices. The Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, after enrolling more than 8,000 Japanese-American men, 45–68 years old and living on Oahu, Hawaii between 1965 and 1968, has continued to examine and interview these subjects, and document morbidity and mortality among them. This study, which performed statistical analyses on 7,557 of the subjects, is the longest longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease and any association with chronic occupational pesticide . . .

01
Oct

Common Fungicides’ Use Leads to Algae Blooms

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2019) Commonly used fungicides induce trophic cascades that can lead to the overgrowth of algae, according to research published in the journal Chemosphere. While the current process for regulating pesticides in the U.S. focuses on the acute toxicity of pesticides, and may consider some chronic impacts, real world complexities as described in the current study are not reviewed. This gap in our assessment can lead to significant adverse effects not just on individual species, but entire ecosystems. Researchers investigated how fungal parasites known as chytrids control the growth of phytoplankton. While some strains of chytrids are notorious for their impact to frog species, some do in fact provide important stopgaps within ecosystems. “By infecting cyanobacteria, parasitic fungi limit their growth and thus reduce the occurrence and intensity of toxic algal blooms,” says IGB researcher Ramsy Agha, PhD, co-author the study. “Whereas we usually perceive disease as a negative phenomenon, parasites are very important for the normal functioning of aquatic ecosystems and can — as in this case — also have positive effects. Pollution by fungicides can interfere with this natural process,” the researcher adds. The agricultural fungicides tebuconazole and azoxystrobin were tested . . .

30
Sep

Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting: Last Chance to Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2019) A warm thank you to all who have sent in comments for the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. We are sending out a second reminder so that those who have not commented can take this opportunity to do so. If you have already submitted, we encourage you to make a second round of comments to make sure your voice is heard! Public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either . . .

26
Sep

Settlement Reached to Protect Habitat of Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2019) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be required to protect the habitat of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, per a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reached earlier this week. The bee was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2017, but USFWS has yet to designate the “critical habitat” for the bee where improved protections must be made to ensure its recovery. With the decline of both wild and managed pollinators throughout the U.S., action on this issue by federal agencies is sorely needed. According to NRDC, the settlement will require FWS to propose critical habitat by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021. Under ESA, FWS is required to designate the critical habitat of a listed species within one year of its listing if not included within its listing announcement. Thus, by drawing out this process, FWS is flouting this important action that will lead to real on-the-ground protections. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has violated federal law—again—by not designating critical . . .

26
Sep

Fall is Here, and It’s a Great Time to Transition Your Lawn to Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, September 26, 2019) While the leaves are beginning to turn and the world is inundated with all things pumpkin spice, remember that fall is the best time to start transitioning your lawn to organic management practices. The key to a healthy lawn is feeding soil biology (soil organisms) in tandem with proper cultural practices (mowing height, water management, aeration, and overseeding). Healthy soil contains high organic matter content and is teeming with biological life. Healthy soil supports the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds, insects, and fungal disease. In a healthy and well-maintained lawn, diseases, and pest problems are rare. “But doesn’t it cost more?” If your lawn is currently chemically‐dependent, initially it may be more expensive to restore the biological life. But, in the long term, it will actually cost you less money. Once established, an organic lawn cycles nutrients naturally, uses fewer materials, such as water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance. Most importantly, your lawn will be safe for children, pets, and your local drinking water supply. Getting Started‐ Late September‐ Early October 1. Mow High Until the Season Ends – Bad . . .

25
Sep

Mysterious “Havana syndrome” Linked to Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) In 2016, Canadians and Americans residing in Havana reported symptoms of headaches, dizziness, nausea. They described hearing strange buzzing and high-pitched sounds – some woke in the middle of the night fumbling for alarm clocks that were not going off. Media used the term “Havana syndrome” to describe the illness. Diplomats, scared by symptoms that seemed to only hit them in their hotel rooms or at home, speculated that a sonic weapon was being used against them. The Trump administration accused Cuban leaders of misconduct and removed all but essential employees. Later, some suspected that the diplomats could have experienced “mass hysteria.” A new Canadian study provides a more likely explanation to this mysterious illness that impacted diplomats in Havana: neurotoxic pesticide exposure. Researchers conducted testing on 14 individuals who had resided in Havana and a control group of 12 that had never lived there. Some of the experimental group had been recently exposed while others, tested 19 months after their return, were classified as “remotely exposed.” Tests included brain imaging and self-reported symptom questionnaires. They analyzed blood samples for routine biochemistry, kidney, liver, and metabolic functions. Individuals . . .

24
Sep

Study Finds Three Billion Birds Lost Since 1970: “Early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song”

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) “Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song,” Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring in 1962. New research finds that quote has held true since it was written. Over three billion birds, or 29% of 1970s abundance have been lost in North America over the last 50 years. To make these dismal determinations, scientists drew from multiple long-term bird monitoring datasets, and a network of nearly 150 weather radars that pick up and thus have recorded the trajectory of migratory birds. Long-term surveys helped scientists determine the 3 billion bird decline, while satellite data found that migratory bird abundance has declined by 9.1% since 2007. In general, 57% of bird species are in decline, with showing the largest loss. Ninety percent of all declines were within 12 bird families: American sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, larks, Old world sparrows, swallows, nightjars, swifts, finches, flycatchers, starlings, and thrushes. Only waterfowl and wetland bird species showed any increase, 13% and 56%, respectively. Ducks, geese, and . . .

23
Sep

Take Action: Help Prevent Species Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2019)  Your voice is making a difference! Last month, thousands of individuals took action through Beyond Pesticides and other environmental groups to express concern to their federal lawmakers about the Trump Administration’s assault on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response, U.S. Representatives Grijalva, Beyer, and Dingell in the House, and Senator Udall in the Senate have introduced the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019. This law will roll back Interior Department regulations that would weaken this landmark law protecting species from extinction. Tell your member of Congress to co-sponsor the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019! The PAW and FIN Act reverses rules which will: (i) weaken the consultation process designed to prevent harm to endangered animals and their habitats from federal agency activities; (ii) curtail the designation of critical habitat and weakens the listing process for imperiled species; and (iii) eliminate all protections for wildlife newly designated as “threatened” under the Act. Biodiversity is under threat in the US and throughout the world. Pollinator declines are well known, and now scientists are indicating we are in the midst of an insect apocalypse.  Declines at the bottom of the . . .
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