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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biodiversity' Category


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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02
Jun

California Court Bans State-Run Pesticide Spraying for Failure to Consider Adverse Impacts

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2022) A California judge ordered state-run pesticide spraying to cease on public, agricultural, wild lands, and private properties. The judge states that government officials fail to consider and minimize the potential health and environmental risk associated with pesticide use. Moreover, officials failed to notify the public on the risks of pesticide spraying. The suit was brought by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the City of Berkeley and ten other public health, conservation and food safety organizations, including Beyond Pesticides. Board member of the California Environmental Health Initiative Nan Wishner states, “The court made the right decision to throw out CDFA’s plan to cement into place for the indefinite future the agency’s ‘spray now, ask questions later approach to pest management, which would have perpetuated the existing situation, in which Californians learn their yards or neighborhoods are to be sprayed only when the treatments are about to happen and have little or no recourse to stop the use of pesticides.”  On May 19, 2022, the Superior Court of California – County of Sacramento ruled to remove an environmental impact report allowing California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to spray pesticides at any time and any place. Removal […]

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17
May

Study of Dramatic Flying Insect Declines Reinforces Earlier Findings

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2022) With public awareness of an ongoing ‘insect apocalypse’ growing, one of the first anecdotes people often note is how many fewer bugs are found splatted onto their car windshield than in the past. In a recent survey, conservation groups in Britain are finding evidence of insect declines in exactly that place, providing scientific backing for these concerning suspicions. Between 2004 and 2021, 58.5% fewer flying insects were squashed onto car license plates. “The results from the Bugs Matter study should shock and concern us all,” says Paul Hadaway, conservation director at Kent Wildlife Trust, which conducted the study alongside UK organization Buglife. “We are seeing declines in insects which reflect the enormous threats and loss of wildlife more broadly across the Country. These declines are happening at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them we face a stark future. Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies.” The survey was conducted primarily through citizen science, utilizing the “Bugs Matter” mobile app, and a sampling grid, referred to as a ‘splatometer’ that is affixed to a car’s license plate. Data was retrieved from trips taken by citizen […]

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05
May

First Report of Environmental Pollutant Risk Among Tropical Mammals Across the Globe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2022) A report published in Biological Conservation finds environmental pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and particulate matter, adversely affect tropical terrestrial wildlife. Specifically, these contaminants can interact with one another, altering the chemical landscape of the ecosystem, and causing changes in the endocrine and microbiome systems of mammals. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), global attention to the danger of pesticides has increased, with environmental agencies banning the use of legacy pesticides like organochlorines for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects. However, these chemicals can remain in the environment for decades and interact with various current-use pesticides, including organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and pyrethroids. Although many studies demonstrate that environmental pollution plays a significant role in premature deaths among humans, there is a lack of research on how environmental pollution directly affects tropical species mortality. Considering human and wildlife habitats tend to overlap, and chemical pollutants can drift from chemically treated areas, wildlife populations are more likely to experience similar health effects. With the number of chemicals in the ecosystem growing, studies like these highlight the need for pesticide policies that protect human health in addition to the integrity of the chemical landscapes accommodating wildlife. The researchers note, “Using […]

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27
Apr

Pesticide Concentration through Metamorphosis Contaminates Birds and Bats

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2022) Pesticides can accumulate in aquatic fly larvae, be retained through metamorphosis, and represent a source of chronic pesticide exposure to birds and bats, according to research published in Environmental Science and Technology earlier this month. As population declines among these critical wildlife continue to mount, findings like these highlight the complex ways in which human activities are further stressing natural systems. Pesticide reviews conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are limited to an outdated set of studies conducted by the pesticide industry, and generally reject and dismiss emerging science from independent literature. This myopic focus on industry studies has brought widespread contamination to the natural world that necessitates wholescale changes at EPA through Congressional action. With widespread acknowledgement that older pesticide chemistries, such as organochlorines like DDT and aldrin, bioconcentrate in living organisms, researchers aimed their study at present use fungicides and herbicides that have not yet undergone similar scrutiny. This includes seven fungicides—azoxystrobin, boscalid, cyflufenamid, fluopyram, tebuconazole, pyrimethanil, and trifloxystrobin—and two herbicides—napropamide and propyzamide. The study notes that formulated end use products, rather than technical grade active ingredients, were used in order to best mimic real world exposure conditions. Larvae of the […]

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15
Apr

Beyond Pesticides Makes Science-based Case that It Is Imperative to Phase Out Pesticides in a Decade

The organic solutions to problems highlighted in the latest issue of Pesticides and You—based on the importance of healthy ecosystems and public health protection—are within reach, and the data creates an imperative for action now that phases out pesticides within a decade, while ensuring food productivity, resilient land management, and safe food, air, and water. (Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2022) The current issue of Pesticides and You, RETROSPECTIVE 2021: A Call to Urgent Action, is a look at a year of science, policy, and advocacy that informs both the existential problems that the U.S. and the world are facing due to toxic pesticide dependency, and solutions that can be adopted now. The information in this issue captures the body of science that empowers action at the local, state, and federal level, and provides a framework for challenging toxic pesticide use and putting alternatives in place. The issue finds that 2021 was a pivotal year in both defining the problem and advancing the solution. This year in review is divided into nine sections that provide an accounting of scientific findings documenting serious pesticide-induced health and environmental effects, disproportionate risk to people of color and those with preexisting conditions, regulatory failures, at the same time […]

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11
Mar

Despite Past Findings of Insecticide’s Threat to 1,284 Species, EPA Reverses and Allows Continued Use

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2022) With a history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings of ludicrously small or no risk, the agency is at it again with its latest announcement that allows the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion. This just the latest example of what advocates see as an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases.   In a head-spinning development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 8 its final Biological Opinion (BiOp) on malathion, which opinion claims that the commonly used insecticide poses no extinction risk to any protected animal or plant. The FWS review and BiOp are part of EPA’s evaluation of whether malathion — an organophosphate insecticide that causes serious damage to many organisms — should retain its registration. The Executive Summary of the BiOp concludes: “Our findings suggest that no proposed species or candidate species would experience species-level effects from the action [i.e., registration and thus, permitted use of malathion], and, therefore, are not likely to be jeopardized. We also conclude the proposed action is not […]

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25
Feb

Trillions in Subsidies Worldwide Are Driving Environmental Collapse Instead of Advancing Solutions

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2022) Together, governments of the world over are spending at least $1.8 trillion annually — 2% of global gross domestic product — on subsidies that drive the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction, and exacerbate the climate crisis. This news comes from a study commissioned by The B Team and Business for Nature, and released in a joint brief, Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform. The Business for Nature website offers a remedy to this entropy: “With political determination and radical public–private sector collaboration, we can reform these harmful subsidies and create opportunities for an equitable, nature-positive and net-zero economy.” To that end, the two organizations have issued, in their brief, calls to action to multiple sectors, including one to the governments participating in the coming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15): “Adopt a clear and ambitious target within the Global Biodiversity Framework . . . that commits governments to redirect, repurpose, or eliminate all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030 and increase positive incentives to enable an equitable, net-zero, nature-positive world.” A press release from The B Team reports that the fossil fuel, agriculture, and water sectors are the recipients of more than […]

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13
Jan

Insects in Nature Preserves Contaminated with Over a Dozen Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2022) Insects found in nature preserves are consistently contaminated with over a dozen pesticides, calling into question the ability for these areas to function as refuges for threatened and endangered species. This finding comes from a study published last month in Scientific Reports by researchers with The Entomological Association Krefeld, the team behind the seminal study on the decline of flying insect biomass in German nature preserves, which sparked worldwide discussions about the ongoing insect apocalypse. With pesticide use rampant and contamination ubiquitous, it is imperative that lawmakers and regulators embrace stronger measures to reverse the ominous trajectory society continues to follow. After finding devastating insect declines of nearly 80% over the last 30 years in German nature preserves, researchers set out to analyze what chemicals these insects were being exposed to, whether there were differences in contamination that could be observed between seasons, and how surrounding agricultural areas influenced insect exposure to pesticide residue. Scientists established a series of Malaise traps – large, tent-like mesh nets that will trap flying insects. Between May and August 2020, two insect collection samples each were taken from 21 nature preserves around Germany. Collected insects were immediately placed into […]

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08
Dec

Pesticide Use on Island Resorts Tied to Biodiversity Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2021) The diversity, abundance, and richness of invertebrate species on oceanic islands declines as a result of pesticide use, urban development, and other human activities, finds research published recently in Royal Society Open Science. Oceanic islands, despite their small size, harbor 20% of all species, and 50% of endangered species, making conservation critically important in the context of a sixth mass extinction and insect apocalypse. As the study indicates, “Although agriculture is currently considered the predominant driver of the worldwide species decline, it is crucial to investigate and consider all human land uses for obtaining a global impact assessment, especially in regions where land use types other than agriculture are predominant.” To determine the primary drivers of species declines on oceanic islands, researchers divided land use type into urban, tourist, and uninhabited. To provide a clean delineation between the various land uses, the study was carried out in the Republic of Maldives. Out of the roughly 1,200 Maldives Islands, researchers chose four uninhabited islands without any permanent human activity, four densely inhabited ‘urban’ islands comprised of Maldives residents, of four resort islands focused solely on tourism. Researchers applied a grid of 1 by 1 meter plots […]

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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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28
Oct

Glyphosate Kills Microorganisms Beneficial to Plants, Animals, and Humans

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2021) A study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science finds the popular herbicide glyphosate negatively affects microbial communities, indirectly influencing plant, animal, and human health. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of glyphosate shifts microbial community composition, destroying beneficial microorganisms while preserving pathogenic organisms. Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupÂŽ. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate over two decades ago. The toxic herbicide readily contaminates the ecosystem with residues pervasive in both food and water commodities. In addition to this study, the scientific literature commonly associates glyphosate with human, biotic, and ecosystem harm, as a doubling of toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators, has been recorded since 2004. The authors caution, “[O]utbreaks of several animal and plant diseases have been related to glyphosate accumulation in the environment. Long-term glyphosate effects have been underreported, and new standards will be needed for residues in plant and animal products and the environment.” With an increasing number of reports on the relationship between glyphosate and human health, including potential effects on the human gut microbiome, advocates are calling on global leaders to eliminate chemical […]

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06
Oct

Monoculture Agriculture Leads to Poor Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2021) Agricultural soils under monoculture cropping systems are not as healthy as soils with diverse plantings, finds research recently published in the journal Agrosystems, Geosciences and Environment. Soil and soil quality are declining rapidly in the United States and around the world, with recent data indicating that the U.S. Corn Belt has lost 35% of its topsoil. Advocates say it is critical that the response to this problem focus on practices that conserve and improve the soil health by building organic matter and healthy microbial populations. “Understanding the management practices that lead to healthier soils will allow farmers to grow the same crops while reducing costly chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) and protecting the environment,” said study coauthor Lori Phillips, PhD. To investigate disparities in soil health between cropping systems, researchers analyzed a long-term cropping system that includes 18 years of continuously grown soy, corn, and perennial grasses. Each cropping system was evaluated for its bacterial and fungal population, as well as a test called CNPS, which measures the enzymes produced by microbes specifically related to the soil’s carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur cycles. Researchers indicate that these measurements create “a holistic measure of biological activity,” […]

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05
Aug

Debilitating Ear Blisters Plague Long Island Turtle Populations from Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2021) A recent report by Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons finds Long Island, New York turtles are experiencing higher rates of deadly aural abscesses or ear blisters from pesticide use. Previous research documents the role chemical exposure from environmental toxicants play in inner ear abscess formation among turtles. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases aural abscess instances. Considering these infections are taking a toll on the Long Island turtle population, government and wildlife officials must assess how chemical exposure promotes disease development to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. Karen Testa, executive director of Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, cautions, “I’m urging Long Islanders to think about how these pesticides are negatively impacting the natural world. Is your perfect green lawn worth the life of a turtle?” Aural abscesses are painful ear blisters that can grow as big as a golf ball. Medical intervention is necessary to remove abscesses from turtles and treat them with an antibiotic regimen to prevent death. Turtle Rescue facility workers report a staggering 50 percent of turtles currently within their care to have aural abscesses. The percentage of turtles with this diagnosis is much higher than in past years. […]

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02
Aug

Tell USDA to Ensure that Organic Farming Protects Ecosystems!

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2021) One reason to eat organic food is to join with a crucial national and global campaign to eliminate toxic, petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers and protect ecosystems in the urgent fight to curtail the climate crisis and biodiversity decline—in addition to local and immediate health and environmental benefits. Despite an important and timely vote by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in 2018 to protect native ecosystems as a critical tool in sequestering carbon and improving environmental resiliency, and despite the Biden Adminstration’s stated commitment to fighting the climate crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its National Organic Program (NOP) have not acted to put this recommendation in force. As our understanding of the connection between protecting intact ecosystems and combating climate change has grown, the urgency to implement this recommendation cannot be overstated. We must act now! Sign the petition to tell the National Organic Program (NOP) to take action to finalize the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommended rulemaking that will protect Native Ecosystems and thereby preserve the integrity of the organic seal, help reverse the biodiversity crisis, and reduce global climate change. Sign by September 20, 2021. The Organic Foods Production Act […]

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30
Jul

Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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23
Jul

Report Finds True Cost of Food in 2019 Was $2.1 Trillion in Adverse Health, Environmental, and Other Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, July 23, 2021) The Rockefeller Foundation has just published a report, True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System, which identifies the real-but-under-recognized downsides of the U.S. food system. The report notes that, for all its reputed bounty, the food system “comes with hidden costs — to our health, to our climate,” and to the many people who make sure that food reaches the population. The report calls for a true accounting of the costs of food in the U.S. Beyond Pesticides welcomes the broad framework of the report, but notes that a true accounting would necessarily include the costs of the externalities of conventional agriculture, including those related to pesticides: the costs of pollution and its cleanup (when that even happens), of lost pollination and biodiversity, of lost productivity from illness, and of health care costs related to pesticide use. Remarkably, for all its repetition of deleterious impacts on climate, biodiversity, and health, the report barely mentions either pesticides’ roles in causing such impacts, or the clear solution to so many of the negatives in the food system — organic, regenerative agriculture. The report’s economic analysis applies a true cost accounting (TCA) […]

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15
Jul

Multi-Crop (Mixed Culture) Farming Practices Promote More Fruitful Farmland than Single-Crop (Monoculture)

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2021) A study by ETH Zurich finds multi-crop (mixed culture) farmlands, which include a diverse array of crops, produce higher biomass and seed yields than single-crop (monocultures). Monocultures are most prevalent among arable farmland as commercial industrial farming uses this practice to increase sowing, managing, and harvesting efficiency for higher yields. However, less crop diversity leads to higher, more intensive pesticide use as pests favor the consistent food availability monocultures provide. An increase in toxic chemical use threatens human, animal, and environmental health, as well as food security. Ecological research already finds a positive association between plant diversity and biomass productivity in grasslands and meadows. In addition, a University of California, Santa Barbara study demonstrates that crop diversity in commercial agriculture is just as essential to supporting a stable biological system as plant diversity on non-commercial landscapes (i.e., grasslands/meadows). Therefore, this research highlights the need to develop policies that help farmers and global leaders make more knowledgeable decisions regarding crop diversity to sustain yield without toxic pesticides. The researchers note, “While crop diversification provides a sustainable measure of agricultural intensification, the use of currently available cultivars [(plant varieties for selective breeding)] may compromise larger gains in seed yield. We, therefore, advocate regional […]

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02
Jul

Second Highest Honey Bee Loss in 15 Years Documented

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2021) The second highest bee loss in 15 years has reported by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) in its 2020–2021 National Colony Loss and Management Survey, released on June 30. For the “winter” period of October 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, approximately 32% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost. This represents an increase of 9.6% over the prior year’s winter loss and is roughly 4% higher than the previous 14-year average rate of loss. For all of the past year (April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021) the colony loss was 45.5%. Beyond Pesticides has covered the related issues of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing and devastating impacts of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, and the larger context of what some have called the “insect apocalypse.” These recent BIP data appear to indicate that “we,” writ large, are failing to remedy these problems. Three out of four food crops globally depend on pollinators, at least in part. Commercially kept bees account for a significant portion of pollination of some U.S. crops; almonds are the leading crop, followed by apples and melons. The commercial bee business is huge — a $691 million […]

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18
Jun

Maine Bans Consumer Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides, with Some Exceptions

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2021) As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to drag its feet on protective regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides, states continue to step up to restrict their use. In April, the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Janet Mills has now signed, a new law that will prohibit use of neonicotinoid pesticides with the “active ingredient[s] dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam used for application in outdoor residential landscapes such as on lawn, turf or ornamental vegetation” [links by Beyond Pesticides]. Though short of an outright ban, this law is a solid step forward for Maine in reining in use of these compounds, which are neurotoxicants widely implicated in pollinator (and other insect, bird, and mammal) harms or declines. Until a federal ban happens, Beyond Pesticides offers guidance on avoiding use of neonicotinoid pesticides through its fact sheet, Managing Pests Safely Without Neonicotinoids, and its Bee Protective web pages. This new Maine law does, however, include exemptions for wood preservation, indoor pest control, use on pets, treatment of structure foundations, and controlling invasive insect pests, such as the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock wooly adelgid. The statute leaves other large loopholes that will permit continued use […]

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21
May

A Toxic-Free Future. Scientific Understanding. Systemic Change. Organic Transition. Collective Action.

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2021) Do those ideas scratch your curiosity, science, policy, agriculture, and/or activist itch? Great — because the 2021 Annual National Pesticide Forum, Cultivating Healthy Communities: Confronting Health Threats, Climate Disasters, and Biodiversity Collapse with a Toxic-Free Future — begins very soon, so it is time to register! Cultivating Healthy Communities is a singular opportunity to learn from top experts and connect with kindred people from all over the U.S. (as well as with some international participants). During plenary sessions, presenters will share their understandings and ideas about the problems we face, and about urgently needed strategies and solutions to solve them. The workshop sessions will be interactive, providing attendees the chance to interact with one another and presenting experts. This annual National Pesticide Forum conference is convened, in 2021, by Beyond Pesticides and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai’s Institute for Exposomic Research. (“Exposomic” references the multitude of environmental factors to which an individual is exposed, and which can have effects on health.) If you are groaning or rolling your eyes at the thought of yet another conference, know that Cultivating Healthy Communities is not one of those events (think old school, boring, and expensive, […]

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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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29
Mar

Suspension of Deadly Insecticide Use and Transition to Organic Needed to Save Hummingbirds

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2021) New data on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides calls for urgent regulatory action. The same pesticides that are linked to the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Widely known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating up to 80 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. Tell EPA and Congress to save the hummingbirds by suspending use of neonicotinoid insecticides and supporting the transition to organic practices. While hovering, a hummingbird consumes calories faster than any other bird or mammal. That’s why the finding that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid slows metabolism up to 25% is so disturbing. Systemic pesticides like imidacloprid and other neonics are transported throughout the plant, including nectar. Findings on the danger neonicotinoids pose to hummingbirds decades after the chemicals were first permitted to be used in the environment, and by independent scientists, not regulatory agencies, is indicative of a regulatory approach that fails […]

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