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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biodiversity' Category


09
Sep

Seeing the Value of Nature through Beavers, as Cattle Ranchers Benefit from These “Ecosystem Engineers”

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2022) One kind of solution to the biodiversity crisis that is likely not on most folk’s bingo cards comes from a Nevada cattle rancher, who has shifted his relationship with . . . wait for it . . . beavers. As climate change impacts ramp up their toll in the U.S. via intensified droughts, floods, and wildfires, solutions are widely and eagerly sought, if deployed at insufficient pace. In this Nevada case, Agee Smith — unlike his rancher father, who reportedly “waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite” — welcomes beavers and their industry on his ranch land. Doing so has yielded multiple benefits for his operation, the environment, and biodiversity. As reported by The New York Times, “Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.” Many landowners, of all stripes, consider beavers to be destructive “nuisance” animals that wantonly fell trees, and in so doing sometimes flood farm fields, back yards, roads, forests, or grazing acreage. Public complaints about such behaviors resulted in the federal government’s killing of more than 25,000 beavers […]

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22
Aug

Groups Call for Organic Action to Implement Climate Solutions under Historic Federal Law

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2022) The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is, as President Biden claims, “The single most aggressive action the U.S. is taking to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy solutions in American history.” However, that is a low bar to clear. There is much more required to meet the President’s climate goals and much is needed to ensure that the IRA is implemented in a way that helps farmers, fenceline communities, and biodiversity. As stated by Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, “President Biden and his administration should take this moment not only to celebrate, but also to recommit and refocus on addressing the environmental injustice and wildlife crises.” For more in-depth coverage, see Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News. Tell President Biden that funds in the Inflation Reduction Act must meet the need for a transformative moment to address the existential health (including environmental justice), biodiversity, and climate crises and shift society to organic practices by eliminating fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers; and that further steps are needed to reach critical and urgent goals.  We cannot meet climate goals while maintaining a dependence on fossil fuels. Eliminating that dependence requires more than a shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, shifting from […]

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19
Aug

Historic Federal Support Could Effectively Take on Climate, Health, and Biodiversity Crises—with Grassroots Advocacy

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2022) On August 16, President Biden signed a bill — the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” — that will provide unprecedented sums to address the existential threats we face related to climate, biodiversity, and health. The $750 billion total appropriation is far less than the original $1.75 trillion hoped for early in the legislative process, but nevertheless is an historic level of federal investment. Beyond Pesticides sees in the bill, now law, opportunities to make significant headway on our call for the elimination of toxic pesticides over the next decade, which launches during our 2022 National Forum Series. The new law could (and should) also provide investment in the critical transition to organic production methods in agriculture. Should the federal government advance organic systems as a climate, health, and environmental justice solution, those two priorities would go far to improve health, reduce dependence on synthetic, fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, and allow natural systems to begin to heal from 70+ years of chemical assault. Component sections of the Inflation Reduction Act include those on Clean Energy and Transmission, Clean Transportation, Buildings and Energy Efficiency, Manufacturing, Environmental Justice, Conservation and Agriculture, Fossil Fuels, and Permitting Reform. Within those categories, […]

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15
Aug

Prohibit Ag Pesticide Use on Wildlife Refuges to Protect Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2022) Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and seven other members of the United States Senate are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to phase out the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges in order to protect declining wildlife species and the country’s unique natural resources. The senators sent a letter to FWS Director Martha Williams urging FWS to “expeditiously begin a rulemaking process to phase out the use of agricultural pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges.” The move comes at a time when native wildlife and the ecosystems humans rely upon are under greater threats than ever before from climate change, habitat destruction, and the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides. Join eight U.S. Senators in calling for a phase out of the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges. “The Refuge System was established to provide sanctuary for listed threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife,” wrote the senators in their letter. “The Refuges’ migratory sanctuary and breeding grounds are especially critical for North American birds, as they have faced precipitous population declines; there are 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America than there were in 1970. Unfortunately these birds […]

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02
Aug

U.S. Senators Urge Fish and Wildlife Service to Phase Out Pesticide Use in America’s Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2022) Members of the United States Senate are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to phase out the use of toxic pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges in order to protect declining wildlife species and the country’s unique natural resources. Led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the senators sent a letter to FWS Director Martha Williams urging FWS to “expeditiously begin a rulemaking process to phase out the use of agricultural pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges.” The move comes at a time when native wildlife and the ecosystems humans rely upon are under greater threats than ever before from climate change, habitat destruction, and the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides. “The Refuge System was established to provide sanctuary for listed threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife,” wrote the senators in a letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Director Martha Williams. “The Refuges’ migratory sanctuary and breeding grounds are especially critical for North American birds, as they have faced precipitous population declines; there are 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America than there were in 1970. Unfortunately these birds and other threatened species are being put at risk by pesticide use […]

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25
Jul

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

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2022) We have seen pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change result in dramatic losses of insect biodiversity and biomass—an “insect apocalypse” that is resulting in cascading impacts on other species that depend on them. A preliminary report on two years of water sampling from sites in the Atlantic Ocean near the United Kingdom (UK), by a team from the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey Foundation (GOES), suggests that plankton populations may have plummeted by 90% since baseline 1940 levels. Just as insects are crucial as the basis of terrestrial ecosystems, plankton are the base of aquatic and marine food chains. The authors of the report conclude, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.” Tell EPA to protect our oceans and our lives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job. Action is needed now to stop the ongoing plankton apocalypse. Researchers blame chemical pollution from pesticides, farm fertilizers, and oil spills in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act […]

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22
Jul

Report Rings Alarm of Plummeting Plankton Population, Threatening Ocean Life and Beyond

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2022) A preliminary report on two years of water sampling from sites in the Atlantic Ocean near the United Kingdom (UK), by a team from the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey Foundation (GOES), suggests that plankton populations may have plummeted by 90% since baseline 1940 levels. Just as insects are crucial as the basis of terrestrial ecosystems, plankton are the base of aquatic and marine food chains. As reported by Scotland’s Sunday Post, the reasons include chemical pollution in the ocean from plastics, synthetic fertilizer runoff, and pharmaceuticals. Beyond Pesticides adds that intensive use of synthetic pesticides also contributes to inhospitable conditions for the variety of plankton in our oceans. The researchers warn, “An environmental catastrophe is unfolding. We believe humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It is our view that humanity will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals.” The GOES website asserts, “The story that appeared on the front page of the Sunday Post was based on research and reports from www.GoesFoundation.com. We have just completed the largest Citizen Science project to map microplastic as well plankton productivity across the equatorial Atlantic. The results were so bad, we released an […]

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15
Jul

UN: Short-Term Economic Gains Harming Well-Being and Integrity of Nature

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2022) Nature is too often sacrificed to a global and outsized focus on short-term profits and economic growth, according to a new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report warns that policy making, broadly, does not reflect the value of Nature’s roles in supporting human life and activity, never mind all the peripheral benefits (aesthetic, emotional, spiritual) people derive from the natural world. The report calls on leaders in all sectors to integrate the contributions of Nature in development and deployment of policy in a more-comprehensive way — as Le Monde writes, “beyond being ‘a huge factory.’” Beyond Pesticides offers a seminal reminder from Fred Kirschenmann, PhD: the prevailing philosophy of maximum efficient production for short-term economic return at the expense of Nature causes havoc in the world and will not work in the future; instead, we must develop a broad ecological conscience that guides all that we do. The report’s Summary for Policymakers was approved on July 11 by representatives from 139 Member States; the report itself is the culmination of four years of effort by 82 collaborating scientists and experts from multiple disciplines. The same member […]

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07
Jul

Pesticides Exacerbate the Threats of Biodiversity Collapse and the Climate Emergency

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2022) A review article published in the International Journal on Environmental Sciences highlights how pervasive pesticide exposure and climate change threaten global species biodiversity. Now more than ever, people are changing their sentiment toward sustainability, with two-thirds of consumers stating the importance of limiting climate change impacts and 88 percent supporting greater pollution reduction. The relationship between climate change and biodiversity—a “distinct but related issue”— is often overlooked in the regulation of the pesticide industry. Climate change and biodiversity loss are interdependent, and an adverse impact on one can bolster adverse effects on the other. Biodiversity is intricate and affects all environmental ecosystems—from oceans and freshwater to forests and soils; it encompasses all life forms on earth. Without biodiversity, food production, energy production, clean water, fertile soil, sustained air quality, and climate will suffer. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to hold the pesticide industry accountable for the direct (i.e., excessive agrochemical use) and indirect (i.e., water pollution from run-off) impacts on ecosystems. The review notes, “The enormous use […]

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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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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) RoundupÂź. 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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