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Daily News Blog

Archive for the '3-D' Category


18
Jan

Neonicotinoids Found in UK Honey Despite Partial Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2018) Research published in early January 2018 has shown that — despite a partial ban on neonicotinoid insecticides instituted in 2014 — 25% of British honey is still contaminated with residue of these “potent, bee-killing” pesticides. The partial ban, which extended to flowering crops, such as oilseed rape (from which canola oil is made), was instituted by the European Union (EU) in response to evidence of serious threats to bee populations. Samples for this study came from beekeepers and were each from a single location. After the partial ban went into effect, scientists had seen some reduction in the contamination rate of neonicotinoids in honey, from greater than 50% prior to the ban. This study demonstrates that these powerful pesticides nevertheless remain common in agricultural areas, posing serious threats to bees (and other pollinators). This discovery is likely to accelerate pressure on the EU to ban all outdoor use of neonicotinoids, with a vote coming perhaps as soon as in the next few months. “While the frequency of neonicotinoid contaminated samples fell once the EU ban was in place, our data suggest that these pesticides remain prevalent in the farming environment,” said Ben Woodcock, of the UK’s […]

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16
Jan

Take Action: Tell EPA that Neonics Pose Unacceptable Ecological Threats!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2018) In spite of findings that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides pose both acute and chronic risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment that could support their continued use. Comments are due by February 20, 2018.  Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds! And, ask your Congressional delegation push EPA to do the right thing. Last month, EPA released preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but also, to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. However, EPA’s assessments also cover spray treatments. EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments on December 15, 2017. Along with outlining the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is especially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics on cotton and citrus crops, identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. […]

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12
Jan

Honey Bees Attracted to Glyphosate and a Common Fungicide

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2018) Honey bees display a concerning attraction to the herbicide glyphosate and the fungicide chlorothalonil at certain concentrations, new research from scientists at the University of Illinois (UIL) reveals. Results are reminiscent of a 2015 study published in the journal Nature, which found that honey bees display a preference for foods treated with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides implicated in global pollinator declines. Since the crisis became public knowledge in 2006, managed honey bees have experienced unsustainable levels of colony loss, and one in four species of native bees in North America and Hawaii are at risk of extinction. This new research adds to growing concerns that, while neonicotinoids continue to play a primary role in the pollinator crisis, their elimination would still leave a myriad of other toxic chemical threats to the recovery of these critical species, upon which so much of our food supply relies. UIL scientists investigated honey bees’ preference for a range of pesticides as well as a number of naturally occurring chemicals that honey bees would likely encounter in the field. In the experiment, pollinators were put in a large enclosure and allowed to fly to different feeders stocked with either […]

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04
Jan

EPA’s Assessments of Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides Confirm Dangers to Birds and Aquatic Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2018) Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids (neonics); clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. Released December 15, 2017, EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments until February 20, 2018. Along with the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is specially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics in cotton and citrus crops identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. EPA states, “We believe early input from the public will be helpful in developing possible mitigation options that may be needed to address risks to bees.” This despite evidence of long-term systemic exposures to non-target organisms that support a phase-out of these pesticides. EPA believes that neonicotinoids are crucial for the management of Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that causes citrus greening, […]

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22
Dec

It is an honor to work with you, the members and network of Beyond Pesticides

Thank you for your support and collaboration. Onward in 2018! (Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2017)  We deeply appreciate your donation to our program in 2017 and it is easy to donate HERE. Year in Review At Beyond Pesticides, we collaborate with organizations and advocate across the country to get our message out on the threat that pesticides pose to human health and the environment. We support local action to stop this threat. And, we assist communities nationwide with the adoption of organic management practices that are more effective and protective than chemical-intensive practices. The partnerships that have been established are, at a more rapid pace, resulting in the adoption of land management practices that are supported by Beyond Pesticides’ strategic vision for a world free of toxic pesticides. Information for Action Beyond Pesticides expanded its role in the forefront of pesticide and organic advocacy with our Action of Week  and Q&A of the Week, in addition to our Daily News, which identifies and delves into key science, policy, and actions that inform local action. The Summer issue of our journal, Pesticides and You, highlighted David Montgomery’s talk at Beyond Pesticides’ National Forum on the importance of soil microbiota and gut microbiome to healthy ecosystems […]

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21
Dec

EPA Says Glyphosate “Likely Not Carcinogenic,” Despite Scientific Findings to the Contrary

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2017) On December 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that glyphosate is likely not carcinogenic. Relatedly, after weeks of stalemate on a decision by European countries, the European Union (EU) voted, in late November, to extend the license for the herbicide for another five years, despite massive opposition in member countries. In the U.S., the Center for Biological Diversity charged that the EPA assessment relied heavily on industry studies to arrive it its conclusion, and ignored its own guidelines for assessing cancer risks. Senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity Nathan Donley said, “The only way the EPA could conclude that glyphosate poses no significant risks to human health was to analyze industry studies and ignore its own guidelines when estimating cancer risk. . . . The EPA’s biased assessment falls short of the most basic standards of independent research and fails to give Americans an accurate picture of the risks posed by glyphosate use.” Glyphosate is due for its EPA registration review in 2019, and opponents are concerned that the December 18 announcement portends likely re-registration — which advocates say is bad news for human health and the environment. As the chief […]

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14
Dec

UK Rivers Contaminated with Neonicotinoids; EU Delays Decision to Extend Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2017) Tests of waterways in the United Kingdom (UK) reveal rivers contaminated with neonicotinoids, the class of chemicals highly toxic to bees and aquatic invertebrates. And now, although neonicotinoids were banned from use on certain crops in the European Union (EU) in 2013, an EU vote to extend the ban has been delayed. The test results raise concerns over neonicotinoids’ impacts on waterways, especially to fish and birds. Under a new EU mandate -Water Framework Directive ‘Watch List’ initiative – the UK was required to monitor for all five commonly used neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid and thiacloprid. Twenty-three sites were sampled in 2016, 16 in England, four in Scotland, three in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. This is the first systematic testing of neonicotinoids in rivers in Britain. According to the results, half the rivers tested in England had either chronic or acute levels of contamination. Of the 23 rivers tested across Britain, all but six contain neonicotinoids. Eight rivers in England exceed recommended chronic pollution limits, and two are acutely polluted. Neonicotinoids are not only highly toxic to bees but also highly toxic to aquatic insects, which are a vital food source to […]

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11
Dec

Take Action: Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to Support Monarch Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2017) Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to substantially increase the amount of funding spent on the conservation of monarch butterflies and the restoration of their habitat, and to ensure that restored habitat is not poisoned with hazardous pesticides. Although the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs –including the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund— last year’s NRCS expenditure of $4 million was insufficient to prevent the monarchs’ decline, and could not even begin stemming the loss of milkweed habitat. Restoring the monarch butterfly and its habitat will require a substantial contribution from the agricultural sector and strong leadership from the NRCS. Agricultural lands encompass 77% of all prospective monarch habitat, and thus are indispensable to reaching these goals. Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and it is estimated that there is a 60 percent chance the multigenerational migration of these butterflies would completely collapse in the next 20 years. Milkweed, the only forage for monarch caterpillars, has decreased by 21 percent, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural fields and pesticide use have expanded. Scientists estimate […]

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06
Dec

Groups Urge Trump Administration to Protect Monarch Butterflies

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2017) Last week over 100 conservation and environmental groups urged the federal government to increase funding to protect and conserve monarch butterflies. These iconic butterflies, native to North America, have seen drastic declines in their populations. Surveys report over 80 percent reductions in populations over the last 20 years. Pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change have all been identified as stressors to these butterflies. The groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do more to help the imperiled butterfly. The letter requests the agency increase the allotment of conservation funds from $4 million- spent last year- to $100 million. The increase in funds is needed for efforts to increase milkweed habitat. In contrast, the government spent over $500 million on sage grouse initiatives to prevent that animal’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though the Trump Administration is seeking to overturn these initiatives. Currently, the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs. These include the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support of the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. But, according […]

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05
Dec

Fungicides Tied to Declining Bumblebee Populations in the United States

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2017) Fungicides are likely playing an important role in the decline of North American bumblebee populations, according to new research published by a team at Cornell University. While overwhelming data continue to indicate that insecticides, particularly the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, are the leading factor in overall pollinator declines, Cornell scientists discovered that fungicides, in particular the chemical chlorothalonil, are likely compounding risk and toxicity for U.S. bumblebee species. As new studies continue to expand the chemical culprits in pollinator declines, calls for a wholesale change in agricultural practices toward more sustainable organic production are reinforced. Cornell researchers began their investigation by focusing on what land use factors had the most impact on eight bumblebee species, many of which have been declining in the U.S. Bumblebee species were sampled at nearly 300 sites in 40 states during the summer months, and at each of the sampling sites, landscape variables were characterized and quantified for land use (urban v rural), habitat (high vs low latitude), and pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide) usage. The strongest indicator of declining range within the selected bumblebee species was found to be overall fungicide use, with those in the northern U.S. undergoing the […]

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04
Dec

Take Action: Don’t Allow Dow Chemical to Poison Farms and Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2017) You told the Arkansas Plant Board to exercise its authority to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment from use of the herbicide dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, and the board listened. Now, we need to ask the board to stop the use of 2,4-D on GE cotton. The action of states is critical as the federal government ignores basic safety concerns. Action in Arkansas will influence other states. Tell the Arkansas Plant Board to adopt the proposed rule and to prohibit use of 2,4-D on cotton! The decision concerning 2,4-D use on herbicide-tolerant cotton goes to the Arkansas Plant Board on December 12. The choice has many similarities to the decision to allow — and then prohibit — the use of dicamba on herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties. Both 2,4-D and dicamba are phenoxy herbicides — 2,4-D being the infamous ingredient (along with 2,4,5-T) of Agent Orange. Our voices were heard when the Arkansas Plant Board considered dicamba, so please weigh in on 2,4-D. At this December 12 meeting, the Arkansas Plant Board is holding a hearing on a proposed regulation that would allow the Board to request more information from pesticide registrants, which could support restrictions based on conditions within Arkansas. The […]

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01
Dec

PolliNATION: Best BioControl, Ichneumonid Wasps

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2017) Ichneumonid wasps (family Ichneumonidae), are a widely distributed parasitoid wasp family within the order Hymenoptera. The name “ichneumonid” comes from Greek words meaning “tracker” and “footprint.” And females do indeed hunt for suitable “hosts” by first identifying the organism’s food source. Once a suitable host is found, females deposit eggs onto the unsuspecting insect larvae where, within ten days to several weeks, the Ichneumonid larva kills the host by feeding on its body fluids before it emerges. They are also known as “scorpion wasps” for the extreme length and curving motion of their segmented abdomens. Note: both adult males and females are stingless, and feed on nectar. The discovery of Ichneumonidae was so troubling to many that, in 1860, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, saying: “I own that I [should wish to] see as plainly as others do…evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us…I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” The parasitic behavior of Ichneumon wasps was […]

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30
Nov

French Court Bans Two Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2017)  A French court suspended the license of two pesticide products citing their toxicity to bees. The products, Closer and Transform, both contain the active ingredient, sulfoxaflor, which is highly toxic to bees. The ruling overturned the decision by France’s health and environment agency, ANSES, to allow the use of the sulfoxaflor products. Sulfoxaflor use was also challenged in the U.S. by beekeepers concerned about its impact on already declining bee populations. Sulfoxaflor is a relatively new active ingredient whose mode of action is similar to that of neonicotinoid pesticides. Even though it has not been classified as a neonicotinoid, it elicits similar neurological responses in honey bees, with many believing that sulfoxaflor is a new generation of neonicotinoid. Its initial 2013  U.S. registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inadequate review of the data. The court concluded that EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide may have on honey bee colonies. By vacating EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, sulfoxaflor could not be used […]

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28
Nov

Study Finds Pesticides Take the Buzz Out of Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2017) Bumblebees exposed to field-realistic levels of neonicotinoid insecticides have problems with “buzz pollination” that results in reduced pollen collection, according to new research published in Scientific Reports. This is the latest science to tease out the complex ways in which neonicotinoids interfere with these important pollinators, providing yet another reason to eliminate these highly toxic, systemic insecticides from the environment. Flowers that bumblebees pollinate require the insects to emit soundwaves, or ‘sonicate’ to release their pollen, and bumblebees must perfect their techniques over time in order to maximize the pollen they are able to collect. Researchers tested the effect of neonicotinoids on bumblebees’ sonication abilities by exposing them to field realistic doses of the insecticide thiamethoxam at rates of 2 parts per billion (ppb) and 10 ppb, and observing their ability to successfully collect pollen. A control group that never came in contact with thiamethoxam was also used to compare the progress of the exposed group. Lead author of the study, Penelope Whitehorn, PhD, indicated, “We found that control bees, who were not exposed to the pesticide, improved their pollen collection as they gained experience, which we interpreted as an ability to learn to buzz […]

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16
Nov

Over One million People Ask Government to Block Bayer-Monsanto Merger

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2017) With a petition signed by over one million people, farming, consumer, and environmental groups called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week to block the proposed merger of Bayer (BAYN) and Monsanto (MON). The signatures were delivered as two new reports reveal devastating impacts that will be caused by the merger on consumers and farmers, including higher food prices, less innovation, limited seed choices, and escalating dependency of toxic chemical inputs in food production.  On Tuesday November 14, 2017, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs and the Open Markets Institute released an analysis, “Bayer-Monsanto Merger: Big Data, Big Agriculture, Big Problems,” which  explores the implications of a combined biotechnology, chemical, and seed platform owned by Bayer and Monsanto and how it may impact competition and farmer choice. The release of the analysis coincided with a hearing on technology in agriculture and data-driven farming in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. Consumer Federation of America also released a report, “Mega-Mergers in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Sector the Political Economy of Tight Oligopolies on Steroids and the Squeeze on Farmers and Consumers.” The report uses the concept of a “tight oligopoly on […]

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14
Nov

EU Fails to Approve Continuing Glyphosate Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2017) The European Commission has again been unable to come to a consensus over renewing approval for Monsanto’s popular herbicide,  glyphosate.  Member states voted last week, but failed to approve, continued use even after months of deliberation over the controversial herbicide. Glyphosate (Roundup) is also up for review in the U.S., but many expect the herbicide to be reregistered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite health concerns. The proposal to renew the European Union (EU) license for glyphosate for another five years failed to a reach a qualified majority, meaning a decision has again been postponed, according to reports. The current license is due to expire on December 15, 2017, but there is an 18-month grace period. Fourteen countries voted in favor of the renewal, nine against, while five, including Germany, abstained from voting. According to reports, a qualified majority requires that 55 percent of EU countries vote in favor and that the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population. France, which voted against the proposal, said it would only support a renewal for three-year phase-out. The proposal could now be referred to an appeals committee, or alternatively, the Commission could draw […]

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08
Nov

Monsanto Pulls New Seed Treatment Product after Complaints of Skin Irritation, Blames Users

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 8, 2017) Farmers who purchased and handled Monsanto’s new treated seed product, NemaStrike, for nematode or roundworm control (nematicide) have been reporting skin irritation, including rashes that occurred after use. Now the seed giant is pausing a full rollout of the product, while blaming farmers for not using gloves and other protective equipment to handle the treated seeds. This is another blunder from Monsanto and the latest incident highlighting the deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide registration process in light of the millions of acres of crop damage from Monsanto products green-lighted by EPA. While touting that NemaStrike went through three years of extensive field trials and “extensive evaluations” by EPA, Monsanto stated in a bulletin to its customers on its website that it will pause commercialization of the product in light of reports of skin irritation from users. These adverse reactions to the product are being blamed on the failure of users to wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling the treated seeds. This is not the first time that Monsanto has tried to shift responsibility for the toxic effect of its products to users. Last year, Monsanto blamed farmers for drift […]

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30
Oct

Deadline Today: Stop Monsanto from Poisoning Farms and Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2017) Tell the Arkansas State Plant Board to stand up to Monsanto, and protect farmers by banning dicamba’s use in Arkansas agriculture. Comment period closes today, Monday, October 30, 2017, at 4:30pm (Eastern Time). Your comments are needed to stop the disaster in Arkansas being created by Monsanto’s new genetically engineered (GE) cropping system, which relies on the toxic pesticide dicamba. If Arkansas bans dicamba, other states should and will follow —given the chemical industry’s takeover of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is allowing this extremely hazardous pesticide use. This is a problem that has regional and national implications, given the breakdown of the EPA and its pesticide program. We cannot let this failure of protection stand in Arkansas or anywhere in the country. Promoted by Monsanto as a way to address rampant Roundup (glyphosate) resistance, Monsanto’s new GE soybeans are now able to withstand both glyphosate and dicamba, an older herbicide with a range of documented health effects —from neurotoxicity to reproductive problems. Dicamba is also highly volatile and, as a result, has drifted across crop fields throughout the region, damaging high value fruit tree and organic operations. The Arkansas State Plant Board is […]

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18
Oct

Monsanto Banned from Lobbying European Parliament

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2017) Effective immediately, the European Parliament has banned Monsanto lobbyists, excluding the chemical company from access to committee meetings and digital resources, as well as no longer permitting Monsanto lobbyists to meet with any Member of the European Parliament (MEP). This limit to its influence is a serious blow to Monsanto’s advocacy campaign to promote the safety of its weedkiller glyphosate, (Roundup). The decision to ban came amid mounting public pressure to deny European Union re-licensing of glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely used herbicides. (See glyphosate listing in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticides Gateway, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.) Glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monsanto, the world’s largest GE-seed and seventh-largest pesticide company, is eager to suppress IARC’s ranking. In fact, before being banned, the European Parliament had questioned Monsanto’s funding of counter-studies in order to discredit independent scientists working to limit the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals. In a related development, independent scientists sent a letter to the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, calling for the retraction of a 2016 paper that refuted glyphosate’s cancer risks after it was learned that […]

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17
Oct

Scientists Urge Retraction of Journal Article on Glyphosate’s Safety, Surreptitiously Written by Monsanto

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2017) In a letter to the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, scientists called for the retraction of a 2016 paper that refuted glyphosate’s cancer risks after it was learned that the paper was secretly edited and funded by Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate. The paper in question, “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate,” is a review of the 2015 decision by an expert Working Group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to designate glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). However, a new report this summer discovered conflict of interests not revealed at publication. Contrary to the journal’s conflict-of-interest disclosure statement, Monsanto directly paid at least two of the scientists who authored the paper, and a Monsanto employee substantially edited and reviewed the article prior to publication, in clear contradiction to the disclosure statement. The retraction-request letter highlights a range of failures involved in the published review: Failure to disclose that at least two panelists who authored the review worked as consultants for, and were directly paid by, Monsanto for their work on the paper. Failure to disclose that at least […]

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11
Oct

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Species from Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2017) Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of neonicotinoid pesticides – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid, and the agency’s failure to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the pesticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges the failure of the federal government to evaluate the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) on threatened and endangered species, like the rusty patched bumble bee, the black-capped vireo, and the San Bruno elfin butterfly. The suit cites widespread presence of neonics in the environment which presents serious risks to wildlife across large portions of the country. It contends that they pose significant adverse consequences to threatened and endangered species. According to the lawsuit, because of toxicity and pervasive environmental contamination, NRDC is now challenging EPA’s registrations of pesticide products containing one of three main neonic active ingredients—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—and seeks vacatur of those registrations until EPA complies with the law. “The EPA ignored endangered bees, butterflies, and birds when it approved the widespread use of neonics,” said Rebecca Riley, a senior […]

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04
Oct

October’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Soldier Beetle

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2017) Beetles in the family Cantharidae are known as soldier beetles, a name that is based on the resemblance of the elyra (wing cover) to certain military uniforms. They superficially resemble fireflies (family Lampyridae), but lack light-emitting organs and the covering obscuring the head of fireflies. Like fireflies, soldier beetles are distasteful to most predators. Range There are 16 genera containing 455 species of soldier beetles native to North America, including Chauliognathus marginatus, which is commonly seen on goldenrod in late summer and early fall. Worldwide, there are about 5,100 species in 160 genera, widely distributed in all but polar regions. Most frequently active in summer and early fall, adults can be found on various flowers including sunflowers, tansy, zinnia, marigold, goldenrod, and coneflower. Females lay eggs in clusters in the soil. Larvae are mostly carnivorous, feeding on soil insects. They live through the winter under loose soil, and become active during spring. Larvae normally pupate in early summer and adults first emerge in mid-summer. Physiology The soldier beetle’s body is around ½ to ¾ inch long. Adults are black or brown, usually with red to yellow markings, an “aposematic” signal to predators, warning of an […]

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13
Sep

Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction; Pesticides, Habitat Loss to Blame

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2017) According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction – 86 percent in the next 50 years. The researchers do not know the exact cause but identify habitat loss and widespread pesticide use as likely culprits. Migratory monarchs in the west could disappear in the next few decades if steps are not taken to recover the population, the study’s lead author, Cheryl Schultz, PhD, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver states. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts. In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000,” she said. Western monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have a spectacular migration. They overwinter in forested groves along coastal California, then lay their eggs on milkweed and drink nectar from flowers in the spring in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. They then return to their coastal overwintering sites in the fall. Eastern monarch, whose numbers are also in decline, travel instead across the border into Mexico to wait out the winter. The researchers from […]

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