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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Beneficials' Category


30
Oct

Despite a Beetle’s History of Resistance to Insecticides, EPA Is Pushing Genetically Engineered Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2023) TAKE ACTION. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so it goes with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to register a new genetically engineered pesticide for the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB); this time with a pesticide that has not been fully evaluated for its adverse effects to people and the environment. [Submit a public comment before comment period ends today, October 30, 2023.] Chemical-intensive agriculture has failed to control CPB since resistance to DDT was identified in 1952 and has continued with every family of pesticides since then. CPB has been dubbed the billion-dollar-bug because of the investment in failed attempts of chemical manufacturers to control the insect, the profits generated by chemical companies despite this failure, and the resulting losses for chemical-intensive farmers—not to mention government expenditures for the registration of chemicals that have short efficacy, pollution costs associated with chemical production and use, and lost ecosystem services. But, EPA is at it again, registering a new novel pesticide active ingredient, Ledprona, which raises the stakes on potential harm. The only winners in this ongoing failure […]

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28
Jul

Degradation of Color Discrimination Associated with Glyphosate Exposure Impairs Bees’ Foraging Ability

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2023) A study published in Science of the Total Environment finds glyphosate can adversely impact sensory and cognitive processes in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris). Glyphosate exposure impairs bees’ learning of aversive stimuli like electric shocks paired with specific color discrimination. Additionally, the pesticide reduces attraction to UV (ultraviolet) light, specifically the color blue, and temporarily impacts locomotion and phototaxis (movement in response to light). These impairments to sensory and cognitive processes render foraging difficult for these glyphosate-exposed pollinators and vulnerable to unavoidable predators. The study highlights that symptoms of widespread chemical exposure may reduce foraging efficiency and adversely affect ecosystems, especially those dependent on insect pollinators.  Pollinator decline directly affects the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, limit crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the strength of the agricultural sector. As the science shows, pesticides are one of the most significant stressors for pollinators. In a world where habitat loss and fragmentation show no sign of abating, scientists have concluded that the globe cannot afford to continue […]

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14
Jul

Soil Amended with Insect Exoskeleton Is Effective Alternative to Harmful Chemical Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2023) The exoskeleton of the black soldier fly (BSF; Hermetica illucens) has the potential to be an effective organic fertilizer. A study in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment highlights the positive impacts on plant size, flower count, seed production, appeal to pollinators, and resilience to herbivory that the fly’s molted exoskeleton (or exuviae) can have when used as a soil supplement. The use of insect exuviae as an organic alternative to harmful synthetic fertilizers is an important step toward an environment free from chemical contaminants, and BSF are uniquely equipped to contribute to a regenerative organic agricultural system. The study set out to determine the impacts of BSF exuviae on plant growth, resilience to herbivory, and pollination. The scientists divided black mustard plants into four different treatment groups: 1) grown in soil amended with BSF powdered exuviae; 2) control group planted in chemically-treated (conventional) soil; 3) grown in amended soil and subjected to increased herbivory from caterpillars (Pieris brassicae) and aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae); and 4) planted in conventional soil and subjected to increased pest exposure. Scientists measured plant growth, flowering status, seed production, herbivore abundance, and pollinator activity. After three weeks, the supplemented soil grew […]

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12
Jul

Cultivating with Natural Predators Gets Farmers Off the Pesticide Treadmill, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2023) A study by University of Delaware entomologist Thabu Mugala and colleagues finds that modifications to their farming methods can reduce slug damage when those changes also encourage natural slug predators, allowing farmers to avoid the endless cycle of pesticide dependency, pest resistance, genetically engineered crops, and synthetic fertilizers. With insects as the target for tens of millions of pounds of agricultural use, growers of the highest-production crops in the U.S., corn and soybeans, continue to find slugs to be a serious problem. Corn and soybean growers who have adopted no-till or conservation tillage and cover crops often think these practices worsen the problem by increasing moisture and decaying plant material in fields, which slugs love. But the cause-and-effect picture is more nuanced and requires strategies that nurture ecological balance. Slugs are the most damaging non-arthropod pest in no-till corn production in the U.S., and truly effective chemical deterrents do not exist at agricultural scale, as Beyond Pesticides noted here, although biological methods may be on the horizon, such as a parasitic nematode already used in Europe that shows promise. The most voracious natural slug hunters are ground beetles, but harvestmen (daddy longlegs), and wolf spiders […]

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22
Jun

Pesticide Threat to Pollinators Decreases Agricultural and Economic Productivity, and Food Security

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2023) Since the early twentieth century, ‘migratory’ beekeepers have provided a critical service to U.S. agriculture by moving their hives seasonally to pollinate a variety of crops. Annually, commercial beekeeping adds between $15 and $20 billion in economic value to agriculture, which is a major industry in the United States, with 21.1 million full- and part-time jobs related to the agricultural and food sectors—10.5 percent of total U.S. employment. Before insects and pollinators like bees evolved to pollinate, pollination occurred through the wind, scattering the pollen from the plants and landing on other flowers that could reproduce. However, commercial pollination services contribute to increased yields. Without commercial pollination, food prices would rise, the farm sector would suffer globally, and the security and variety of the food supply would diminish. With the wild insect pollinator populations already in serious decline, commercial, migratory beekeeping is more than ever a vital piece of the agricultural economy. With pollinator decline, as an integral part of worldwide biodiversity collapse and the “insect apocalypse,” commercial beekeepers face collapse as well. The United Nations states that 80 percent of the 115 top global food crops depend on insect pollination, with one-third of all U.S. crops depending on pollinators, according to the U.S. […]

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21
Jun

A Reminder for Pollinator Week: Protect Pollinator and Habitat and Well-Being Against Dramatic Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2023) Pollinators––bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other organisms––make a critical contribution to plant health, crop productivity, and the preservation of natural resources. However, pesticides consistently act as a key contributor to dramatic pollinator declines. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Roughly a quarter of the global insect population has disappeared since 1990, according to research published in the journal Science. Monarchs are near extinction, and beekeepers continue to experience declines that are putting them out of business. We continue to lose mayflies, the foundation of many food chains, and fireflies, the foundation of many childhood summer memories. The declines in many bird species likely have close links to insect declines. Recent research finds that three billion birds, or 29% of bird abundance, have been lost since the 1970s. In a world where habitat loss and fragmentation show no sign of abating, scientists have concluded that the globe cannot afford to continue to subject its critically important wild insects to these combined threats.  Clean air, water, and healthy soils are integral to ecosystem function, interacting between Earth’s four main spheres (i.e., hydrosphere, […]

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20
Oct

Glyphosate Based Herbicides and Bee Health: The American Bumble Bee

(Beyond Pesticide, October 20,2022) Exposure to environmentally relevant levels of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) weakens bumblebees’ (Bombus Terrestris) ability to distinguish between colors or fine-color discrimination. According to research published in Science of The Total Environment, a lack of fine-color discrimination skills can threaten bumble bee survivability through impact on colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. In the U.S., an increasing number of pollinators, including the American bumblebee and monarch butterfly, are being added or in consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act, with specific chemical classes like systemic neonicotinoid insecticides putting 89% or more of U.S. endangered species at risk. Pollinator decline directly affects the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, limits crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, as much of the economy (65%) depends upon the strength of the agricultural sector. As science shows, pesticides are one of the most significant stressors […]

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23
Jun

Disappearance of California Bumble Bees Calls for Urgent Protection of Pollinators Nationwide

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2022) In the first California statewide bumble bee census in 40 years, a University of California—Riverside (UCR) study, published in Ecology and Evolution, reveals that once common bumble bee species in California are disappearing from the ecosystem. Wild pollinators like bumble bees provide pollination to billions of dollars worth of crops each year as these insects can flourish in cooler habitats and lower light levels than commercial honey bees. However, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to establish monitoring and conservation frameworks incorporating varying habitats and species to assess fluctuations in biodiversity. The study notes, “Specifically, our study shows that greater monitoring of the diverse bumble bees of California is needed in order to better understand the drivers of biodiversity and decline in this genus, and to more effectively manage bumble bee conservation in the state.”  Researchers compared data on bumble bee populations in California in 1980 and 2020. After collecting bumble […]

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06
Jan

Neonicotinoids Pass Through Aphids, Contaminating Honeydew and Killing off Pest Predators

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2022) Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides contaminate honeydew, often the biggest source of food for pest predators, according to recent research published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Concerned advocates for pollinators and pesticide reform are likely familiar with fact that neonicotinoids are systemic, and once applied to a seed or sprayed on a plant are taken up by the plant and distributed throughout the pollen, nectar and dew drops that a plant produces. But there is another systemic effect that is not included in that picture, and in monoculture crops, it could be the biggest source of carbohydrates for beneficial pest predators – honeydew. Honeydew is produced from phloem-feeding (sap sucking) pests like aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and other hemipteran insects. The waste that these insects produce is liquid, and full of sugars. “This rich carbohydrate source is a common food for many beneficial insects, including pollinators, such as bees and flies, and some natural enemies of pests, such as ants, wasps and beetles,” said John Tooker, PhD, coauthor of a recent literature review published in Biological Reviews. “Honeydew often is more abundant than nectar in agroecosystems.” In 2019, a study published in the Proceedings of the […]

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02
Nov

Cover Crops Attract Pest Predators which Reduce Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2021) Cover crops create habitat that draw in pest predators and help mitigate crop injury, finds research published in the journals Agroecosystems and Biological Control from scientists at the University of Georgia. Expanded predator diversity can reduce pest pressure that drives conventional chemical farmers to apply toxic pesticides, and the authors of the study find the practice to be economically viable within these cropping systems. “There’s a motion of change going on where growers are thinking more about using natural systems instead of just using pesticides,” said co-author Jason Schmidt, PhD in a news release. “Producers must use all tools available to make a profit, so if they can promote beneficial insects in the system to aid in pest control,  fewer inputs are needed and that should lead to reduced costs of production. ” To determine how beneficial cover crops were to cotton production, researchers began with experimental crops established over two years in 2016 and 2017 in Georgia. Twelve cover crops plots were established with crimson clover and rye, while a plot not planted with cover crops was used as a control. Researchers planted the cover crop in early November after the previous cotton crop […]

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08
Apr

Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2021) Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and […]

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03
Mar

Massachusetts Regulators Restrict Consumer Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2021) Earlier this week, pesticide regulators in the commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to restrict outdoor consumer uses of neonicotinoid insecticides. The move is the result of sustained advocacy from broad coalition of individuals and organizations focused on protecting pollinators and ecosystem health. While advocates are pleased that the Pesticide Board Subcommittee made Massachusetts the first state in the country to restrict neonicotinoids through a regulatory process, they note this is only the first step in eliminating these hazardous insecticides. “This marks an incremental victory which took us 6 years to land, and it only happened because of immense, ongoing grassroots action and legislative allies who are willing to hold state regulators accountable,” said Martin Dagoberto, Policy Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter in a press release. “We still have a monumental endeavor ahead if we are to reduce toxins and rein in the toxic influence of the chemical lobby,” Mr. Dagoberto added. Advocates had been pushing the legislature to pass An Act to protect Massachusetts Pollinators, sponsored by pollinator champion Representative Carolyn Dykema, since 2014. Following several failures by state lawmakers to bring the bill over the finish line, efforts in 2019 resulted […]

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23
Feb

Hummingbirds Harmed by Pesticides Killing Off Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2021) The same pesticides implicated in the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Well known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating over 50 times per second, hummingbirds display unique reactions to toxic pesticides. Research by scientists at the University of Toronto finds that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of this important and charismatic animal. Scientists began their experiment by trapping 23 wild ruby-throated hummingbirds and housing them in an animal care facility. One group of birds acted as a control and received no pesticide exposure, while the rest were assigned either low, middle, or high exposure (1 part per million [ppm], 2ppm, and 2.5ppm, respectively) to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists determined these amounts based upon probable nectar contamination in the real world. The pesticide was incorporated into the sugar solution provided to the birds over the course of three days. Within two hours of exposure to the pesticides, hummingbird metabolism dropped significantly. While the control group increased energy expenditure between 1% to 7%, the low exposed group displayed a 6% average decline, […]

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12
Feb

Eliminating Pesticides Increases Crop Yields, Debunking Myth of Pesticide Benefits

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2021) Being many decades down the path of chemical-intensive agriculture, growers and other land managers (and all the industries that influence them) have come largely to ignore the efficacy of healthy, functioning natural systems to maintain ecological equilibrium, i.e., not letting any one pest or disease proliferate. Recent research points to an example of such ecosystem efficacy. The study, by researchers in California and China, sought to evaluate whether increased population densities of fungi might be suppressing nematode populations in California production fields frequently planted with the cole crops (such as brussels sprouts and broccoli) they favor. The research finds that a diverse population of fungi in soils is highly likely to be effectively killing nematodes that threaten such crops. This is not the first time Beyond Pesticides has covered the potential of fungi as an effective control for agricultural pests. Thirty years ago, these nematodes were dealt with by application of soil fumigants and nematicides, because at sufficient population levels, the nematodes can destroy cole crops. During the following three decades, state-mandated monitoring showed that use of those chemical controls was diminishing and, by 2014, had been eliminated — even as yields rose. The co-authors […]

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01
Feb

TAKE ACTION: Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction!  

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2021) The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society, was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are, within their lifetimes, likely to experience a world where western monarchs are extinct. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons. Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count. In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping […]

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29
Oct

Natural Areas Surrounding Farmland Critical to Reducing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2020) Natural areas around farmlands play an important role in managing pest outbreaks and therefore reducing insecticide use, a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters finds. While industrial agriculture puts pressure on farmers to grow single crops on ever larger farms to achieve economies of scale, these monoculture landscapes have significant downsides for public health and the environment. “Overall, our results suggest that simplified landscapes increase vineyard pest outbreaks and escalate insecticide spray frequencies,” said lead author Daniel Paredes, PhD, to the Daily Democrat. “In contrast, vineyards surrounded by more productive habitats and more shrubland area are less likely to apply insecticides.” To investigate the effect of nearby landscapes on farm pest pressure, the team of University of California, Davis scientists used a database created by the government of Spain. For 13 years, the government monitored 400 Spanish vineyards for the presence of the European Grapevine Moth. The moth is a notorious vineyard pest (discovered in California vineyards in 2009), laying three generations of eggs on grapes. In the first generation, the moth larvae will web and feed on flowers. In the second and third, they feed on berries, damaging harvests. Scientists developed a […]

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16
Jul

Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

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18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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06
Mar

Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

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18
Apr

Organic Farming Curbs the Spread of Foodborne Pathogens, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2019) Organic farming promotes natural resistance to common foodborne human pathogens, according to a study that evaluates the benefit of soil organisms. By protecting valuable species of dung beetles and soil bacteria, organic farming systems naturally act to clean up and decompose potentially pathogen-bearing animal feces. While these natural systems suppr ess pathogens on organic farms, coventional chemical-intensive farms are left with higher levels of fecal residues and are therefore significantly more likely to yield produce carrying such foodborne pathogens as E. coli. The authors emphasize that curbing the spread of common foodborne pathogens could save thousands of lives and prevent millions of illnesses each year. The study, “Organic farming promotes biotic resistance to foodborne human pathogens,” published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, compares dung beetle populations, soil bacteria diversity, and feces removal rates on 70 organic and conventional broccoli farm fields across the west coast of the U.S. In addition to studying field conditions, authors conducted additional microcosm studies to directly test the effects of dung beetles and soil microbes on the suppression of introduced E. coli. Results from field analyses show that organic management practices lead to greater biodiversity among dung beetles and soil […]

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24
Jan

Study Reveals Pollinator Conservation Necessitates Social Justice Perspective

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2019) A UK Study has concluded that the expansion of community gardens, identified as “pollinator hotspots” with “high pollinator diversity,” offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving community quality of life, particularly in low income neighborhoods. Consequently, researchers suggest towns and cities can be planned and managed more effectively to steward existing urban biodiversity to create essential havens for pollinators and people under stress. The study finds that, “A high level of community robustness to species loss is increasingly recognized as an important goal in restoration ecology, since robust communities are better able to withstand perturbations.” As previous research has shown that organic agriculture boosts local economies, researchers account for and compare a key socioeconomic factor; household income. Affluent neighborhoods have larger, more numerous, and more consistently maintained gardens and green spaces. To increase city-scale robustness, researchers suggest increasing community garden allotments, planting perennial flowering plants in cemeteries, and improving management of public parks. However, researchers explain that increasing the number of community gardens, particularly in communities of low-income, would be the best strategy per unit area, as it would expand viable habitat for pollinators throughout cities while providing much-needed green space […]

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21
Nov

Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]

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