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Daily News Blog

25
Jul

Help Stop Collapse of Ocean Life, Part of the Biodiversity Decline Crisis

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2022) We have seen pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change result in dramatic losses of insect biodiversity and biomass—an “insect apocalypse” that is resulting in cascading impacts on other species that depend on them. A preliminary report on two years of water sampling from sites in the Atlantic Ocean near the United Kingdom (UK), by a team from the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey Foundation (GOES), suggests that plankton populations may have plummeted by 90% since baseline 1940 levels. Just as insects are crucial as the basis of terrestrial ecosystems, plankton are the base of aquatic and marine food chains. The authors of the report conclude, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.”

Tell EPA to protect our oceans and our lives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job.

Action is needed now to stop the ongoing plankton apocalypse. Researchers blame chemical pollution from pesticides, farm fertilizers, and oil spills in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to protect human health and the environment from these threats.

The same chemicals that contribute to the insect apocalypse on land are contributing to the loss of keystone aquatic and marine organisms. For example, neonicotinoid insecticides, which have been detected in rivers, streams, and lakes in 29 states, present detrimental impacts on keystone aquatic organisms and result in a complex cascading impact on ecosystems. In its 2017 risk assessment for the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, EPA found, “[C]oncentrations of imidacloprid detected in streams, rivers, lakes and drainage canals routinely exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints derived for freshwater invertebrates.” The agency evaluated an expanded universe of adverse effects data and finds that acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxicity endpoints are lower (adverse effects beginning at 0.65 μg/L (micrograms per liter)-acute and 0.01 μg/L-chronic effects) than previously established aquatic life benchmarks (adverse effects from 34.5 μg/L-acute and 1.05μg/L-chronic effects). In its 2017 risk assessment, EPA finds risks from imidacloprid exposure to ecologically important organisms not previously evaluated as part of its regulatory review. Despite its acknowledgement that current benchmarks are not adequately protective, EPA describes its review process as requiring studies of the most sensitive organisms and a range of publicly available environmental laboratory and field studies.

The same industrial agriculture that is supported by EPA’s registration of toxic pesticides and results in emissions of climate-changing nitrogen oxides and loss of soil health is also a major contributing factor to nitrate run-off and the need for petroleum-based chemicals whose production results in oil spills. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is within the power and authority of EPA to reverse the threats to biodiversity and human existence.

Tell EPA to protect our oceans and our lives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job.

Letter to EPA Administrator:

We have seen pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change result in dramatic losses of insect biodiversity and biomass—an “insect apocalypse” that is resulting in cascading impacts on other species that depend on them. Now researchers, in a preliminary report, are finding a similar phenomenon in the oceans, with a 90% reduction in plankton. They conclude, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.”

Action is needed now to stop the ongoing plankton apocalypse. Researchers blame chemical pollution from pesticides, farm fertilizers, and oil spills in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to protect human health and the environment from these threats.

The same chemicals that contribute to the insect apocalypse on land are contributing to the loss of keystone aquatic and marine organisms. For example, neonicotinoid insecticides, which have been detected in rivers, streams, and lakes in 29 states, present detrimental impacts on keystone aquatic organisms and result in a complex cascading impact on ecosystems. In its 2017 risk assessment for the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, EPA found, “[C]oncentrations of imidacloprid detected in streams, rivers, lakes and drainage canals routinely exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints derived for freshwater invertebrates.” The agency evaluated an expanded universe of adverse effects data and finds that acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxicity endpoints are lower (adverse effects beginning at 0.65 μg/L (micrograms per liter)-acute and 0.01 μg/L-chronic effects) than previously established aquatic life benchmarks (adverse effects from 34.5 μg/L-acute and 1.05μg/L-chronic effects). In its 2017 risk assessment, EPA finds risks from imidacloprid exposure to ecologically important organisms not previously evaluated as part of its regulatory review. Despite its acknowledgement that current benchmarks are not adequately protective, EPA describes its review process as requiring studies of the most sensitive organisms and a range of publicly available environmental laboratory and field studies.

The same industrial agriculture that is supported by EPA’s registration of toxic pesticides and results in emissions of climate-changing nitrogen oxides and loss of soil health is also a major contributing factor to nitrate run-off and the need for petroleum-based chemicals whose production results in oil spills. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is within the power and authority of EPA to reverse the threats to biodiversity and human existence.

EPA must re-evaluate its risk-benefit analysis to recognize the existential threats posed by toxic pesticides and the industrial agriculture they support. EPA must, instead, promote organic agriculture that does not create such threats.

Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

We have seen pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change result in dramatic losses of insect biodiversity and biomass—an “insect apocalypse” that is resulting in cascading impacts on other species that depend on them. Now researchers, in a preliminary report, are finding a similar phenomenon in the oceans, with a 90% reduction in plankton. They conclude, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.”

Action is needed now to stop the ongoing plankton apocalypse. Researchers blame chemical pollution from pesticides, farm fertilizers, and oil spills in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to protect human health and the environment from these threats.

The same chemicals that contribute to the insect apocalypse on land are contributing to the loss of keystone aquatic and marine organisms. For example, neonicotinoid insecticides, which have been detected in rivers, streams, and lakes in 29 states, present detrimental impacts on keystone aquatic organisms and result in a complex cascading impact on ecosystems. In its 2017 risk assessment for the most widely used neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, EPA found, “[C]oncentrations of imidacloprid detected in streams, rivers, lakes and drainage canals routinely exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints derived for freshwater invertebrates.” The agency evaluated an expanded universe of adverse effects data and finds that acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxicity endpoints are lower (adverse effects beginning at 0.65 μg/L (micrograms per liter)-acute and 0.01 μg/L-chronic effects) than previously established aquatic life benchmarks (adverse effects from 34.5 μg/L-acute and 1.05μg/L-chronic effects). In its 2017 risk assessment, EPA finds risks from imidacloprid exposure to ecologically important organisms not previously evaluated as part of its regulatory review. Despite its acknowledgement that current benchmarks are not adequately protective, EPA describes its review process as requiring studies of the most sensitive organisms and a range of publicly available environmental laboratory and field studies.

The same industrial agriculture that is supported by EPA’s registration of toxic pesticides and results in emissions of climate-changing nitrogen oxides and loss of soil health is also a major contributing factor to nitrate run-off and the need for petroleum-based chemicals whose production results in oil spills. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is within the power and authority of EPA to reverse the threats to biodiversity and human existence.

EPA must re-evaluate its risk-benefit analysis to recognize the existential threats posed by toxic pesticides and the industrial agriculture they support. Please use your oversight to ensure that EPA instead promotes organic agriculture that does not create such threats.

Thank you.

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