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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biodiversity' Category


18
Jul

Funds Support Compliance with International Treaty To Save the Oceans and Biodiversity, Combat Climate Threats

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2023) The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, the governing body for the world’s largest source of multilateral funding for biodiversity loss and climate change, has authorized $34 million USD to support the new high seas treaty agreement announced on March 4. The move marks a significant step toward safeguarding the delicate ecosystems of the world’s oceans and promoting sustainable practices on a global scale. The oceans suffer from severe pollution caused by various substances, including pesticides, agricultural runoff, industrial and petrochemical waste, and synthetic chemicals found in plastics. These pollutants pose a significant threat to human health. The ecological consequences of ocean pollution have long been highlighted by Beyond Pesticides. The March draft agreement was approved by 193 countries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). Then in June, the BBNJ agreement was adopted by consensus at the United Nations meeting in New York. The agreement will be open for countries to sign on September 20, 2023, after the Sustainable Development Goal Summit. In order for the treaty to be entered into force, sixty countries must […]

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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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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
Jun

National Pollinator Week 2023—Preserve and “BEE-Protective” of Pollinators!

(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2023) Welcome to National Pollinator Week, during which time we recognize—and take action to protect—this important ecosystem link. Pollinators—bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other organisms—make a critical contribution to plant health, crop productivity, and the preservation of natural resources, but their existence is threatened by their pesticide-contaminated habitat.   Check out this week’s calendar of activities and actions below! On social media, we will be featuring Pollinator Artwork submitted by the community, as well as the numerous cute (and “not so cute!”) pollinators that live in the world around us!  Also, check out our live Pollinator Poll! Follow us and like our page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn!  Monday: Juneteenth and Environmental Justice  As Pollinator Week launches with the celebration of Juneteenth, it is time to renew our commitment to environmental justice while seeking the adoption of transformational policies and practices that recognize the urgency to address disproportionate harm inflicted by toxic pesticide use.   Those fighting for environmental justice understand that the harms inflicted by toxic chemical production and use cause disproportionate adverse effects on people of color—from fenceline communities near chemical production plants to the hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, to […]

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02
Jun

Scientists Identify 97 Pesticides and Chemical Pollutants in Study of Primate Population

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2023) Scientists have identified 97 different types of pesticides and flame retardants in primate fecal samples, recently reporting their results in the journal Biology Letters. In Uganda’s Kibale National Park, researchers studied the chemical exposure of four species of primates (chimpanzees, Ugandan red colobus, olive baboons and red-tailed monkeys), adding to previous research on the subject. The chemicals demonstrate a measurable effect on primate growth and development, sparking considerable unease as to the future health of these critical species. This study shows how even within a protected national park, wildlife species are at risk from chemical pollution. According to advocates, the use of dangerous pesticides and flame retardants, therefore, must be entirely stopped in order to protect the future viability of wildlife species.  Scientists collected a total of 71 fecal samples from the four chosen species to measure levels of chemicals and hormones in a noninvasive manner. After sample analysis, researchers highlight three main groups of chemical pollutants: organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and organophosphate esters (OPEs). Although in a protected area, wildlife species encounter humans through tourism, research, and human development surrounding the park. As these pesticides are so prevalent in areas of […]

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19
May

Agricultural Pesticide Use the Primary Driver of Bird Declines in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2023) Agricultural intensification is the leading factor driving declines in bird populations across Europe, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week. Among all potential anthropogenic impacts, agricultural intensification, in particular pesticide and fertilizer use, was found to be more dramatic than forest alterations, urbanization, and climate change. “I don’t think a study has looked at all these factors in one go, in such a sophisticated fashion, correcting for one variable alongside another; and it comes out with a very clear message,” lead author Richard Gregory, PhD, of UK nonprofit The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, told The Guardian. Researchers utilized data dating back to the early-1980s, including annual bird surveys and national and supranational analyses, as well as information on land use cover, farm inputs, and temperature changes within the time frame. Bird habitat and ecological traits were also considered in the context of declines, and a statistical analysis aided researchers in capturing trends over time. Results confirmed that birds are overall experiencing significant declines in Europe, with data recording 25% losses in bird abundance since 1980. However, certain groups of birds are faring worse […]

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25
Apr

Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers Linked to “Shocking” Health and Environmental Crises

Today, Beyond Pesticides released a special issue, Transformative Change: Informed by Science, Policy, and Action of its journal, Pesticides and You, with a compendium of “shocking scientific findings that compel us to act in our communities, states, and as a nation and world community.” The 168-page issue documents the last year of scientific, peer-reviewed articles, policy deficiencies, and action for change that intersect not only with petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, but with existential health crises, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.

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19
Apr

Crop Diversification with Intercropping Effective at Reducing Pest Pressures, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2023) Crop diversification is effective at reducing pest abundance in growing climates across the globe, according to a meta-analysis published this month in the Journal of Applied Ecology. The meta-analysis, which includes a review 44 field studies from six continents, provides greater weight to approaches that work with natural processes, rather than those focused on human-made chemical sprays for pest management. Within the studies reviewed, researchers aimed to understand the associational effects that resulted in either associational resistance (a decrease) or associational susceptibility (an increase) in insect herbivores on the primary crop being grown. Researchers reviewed a range of variables, comparing pest numbers in monocultures vs bicultures, evaluating whether the pest is a generalist or specialist, how it feeds (checking or piercing/sucking), its origin (native/non-native), as well as climate, crop type (only onions, brassicas, cotton, and cucurbits were evaluated), plot size, and the experimental design within each particular study.   In sum, the review represents one of the most comprehensive evaluations of intercropping to date. And the results confirm the benefits many farmers and gardeners across the world have found anecdotally in their own plots. “Overall, intercropping proved to be very effective against pests, but it did […]

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17
Apr

Beyond Pesticides Partners with Natural Grocers for Organic Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2023) In celebration of Earth Day and its sixth annual Ladybug LoveSM  campaign throughout the month of April, Natural Grocers is supporting Beyond Pesticides. The campaign celebrates insects that play a crucial role in food supply stability, and regenerative farming practices that use ladybugs and other beneficial insects instead of harmful synthetic pesticides to control pests. Natural Grocers will donate $1 to Beyond Pesticides for each person who pledges (including renewals, so do it again even if you pledged last year) “not use chemicals that harm ladybugs and other beneficial insects on their lawn or garden, and to support 100% organic produce.” Even if you have signed the pledge in previous years, please take moment to sign! You do not need to shop at Natural Grocers to sign, but it’s a great store to shop at, if there’s one in your area!  Sign the Ladybug Pledge and support Beyond Pesticides. In partnership with major retailers like Natural Grocers and Stonyfield Organic, the Beyond Pesticides’ Parks for a Sustainable Future program provides in-depth training to assist community land managers in transitioning two public green spaces to organic landscape management, while aiming to provide the knowledge and skills […]

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06
Apr

Pesticides and the Climate Crisis: Bumble Bee Behavior Thwarted by Temperature and Chemical Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2023) A study published in Global Change Biology adds to research demonstrating that climate change can exacerbate the adverse impacts of pesticide exposure on managed and wild bees. Temperature can alter the sublethal effect pesticides, particularly the neonicotinoid (neonic) imidacloprid and the sulfoximine sulfoxaflor, have on bumble bee behavior tied to fitness and pollination services. Both an increase and decrease in temperature can cause diverging thermal responses in bumble bee behavior. However, increasing temperature bares more severe behavior abnormalities than cooler temperatures. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure combined with climate change threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival. 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 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 […]

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27
Feb

Take Action: Sustainable “Roadmap” Falls Short of What Is Needed To Solve Existential Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2023) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is asking for comments on its “Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Roadmap” by 5 pm (PST) March 13, 2023. While recognizing problems inherent in traditional integrated pest management (IPM), DPR’s roadmap is directing us to a destination that includes another generation of exposure to the worst of the worst pesticides—while failing to embrace the elimination of farm inputs harmful to ecosystems and the capacity of soil biology to cycle nutrients and draw down the maximum amount of atmospheric carbon. The Roadmap’s off-handed rejection of organic practices, rather than building on organic systems, creates a lost opportunity for adopting a holistic and serious solution to the current crises of health threats from pesticides, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. Tell DPR to revise its destination to immediately eliminate the worst pesticides and implement wide scale transition to organic practices. DPR’s Roadmap states these goals: By 2050, eliminate the use of Priority Pesticides by transitioning to SPM. By 2050, SPM will be adopted as the de facto pest management system in California. DPR says “The criteria for classifying pesticides as “Priority Pesticides” include, but are not limited to, hazard and risk classifications, […]

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24
Feb

Perennial Crops Identified as Tools to Fight Biodiversity Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2023) Among the solutions to the dire state of global biodiversity is, Civil Eats reports, perennial agriculture, which improves biodiversity both on- and off-farm. Increased adoption of perennial cropping provides critical on-farm habitat for many kinds of pollinators, insects, birds, and myriad additional creatures. Below ground, where plant roots remain active year-round, perennials create far-richer ecosystems for microbial communities and fungal networks. Planting annual crops — and often, the same ones year after year across huge swaths of acreage, as conventional agriculture generally does — leads to multiple bad outcomes: intensive synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use and the harms that flow from them; poor soils; erosion; inefficient holding and use of water; depleted carbon capacity; and a denuded above-soil landscape and diminished microbial, fungal, and nutrient environment below. Thus, perennial cropping boosts on-farm biodiversity as noted, and benefits off-farm biodiversity by reducing the unsavory impacts, on the broader environment, of traditional, chemically intensive, monoculture farming. Biodiversity loss has emerged in the past decade as yet another crisis humanity faces — one that continues to go unaddressed at the level the loss requires. Beyond Pesticides has written extensively about the crisis and the central solution of ending […]

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16
Feb

More Dramatic Insect Decline Confirms Inadequate Action on Pending Biodiversity Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2023) Areas designated to protect insects fail to do so for over 75 percent of global species, according to a study, “Three-quarters of insect species are insufficiently represented by protected areas,” published in the online journal One Earth. Protected Areas (PAs) act as a safeguard for biodiversity. However, PAs in North America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia do not meet the minimum coverage requirements to safeguard global insect species assessed in the study. PAs are discussed in the 2020 Nature article, “Area-based conservation in the twenty-first century,” in which the authors state that, in view of the global biodiversity crisis, national governments must do much more to increase protected areas with “coverage across different elements of biodiversity (ecoregions, 12,056 threatened species, ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ and wilderness areas) and ecosystem services (productive fisheries, and carbon services on land and seas).” The authors write, citing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (to which the United States is not a signatory), “To be more successful after 2020, area-based conservation must contribute more effectively to meeting global biodiversity goals—ranging from preventing extinctions to retaining the most-intact ecosystems—and must better collaborate with the many Indigenous peoples, community groups and private initiatives […]

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08
Feb

Garden Pesticide Use Harms Local Bird Populations, Study Authors Say “We Should Simply Ban These Poisons”

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2023) Spraying pesticides around one’s garden negatively impacts local bird populations, according to research published by scientists at the University of Sussex, UK in Science of the Total Environment. Although this reasoning sounds common sense to those versed in the works of Rachel Carson, it underscores the immense importance of carrying on the legacy of her work and continuing to educate the public about the ongoing dangers posed by modern pesticides. As the study authors write, “Overall, our study shows that garden bird abundance and richness is strongly influenced by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors, and suggests that garden management, particularly regarding pesticide use, has a significant effect on bird life.” Researchers collected data by partnering with the British Trust for Ornithology, which conducts annual citizen-science counts of bird populations in UK gardens. Nearly 24,000 residents participate in the survey, which also includes information about the urbanization level surrounding their gardens, and other habitat characteristics. A group of these volunteers were provided with a questionnaire about their pesticide practices between 2020-2021, recording information on how often the pesticides were applied, as well as the pesticide brand name. After removing incomplete or unusable data, 615 individual gardens […]

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25
Jan

Western Bumblebee Declines a Result of Pesticides and Climate Change, No End in Sight

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2023) Populations of the western bumblebee are in free fall, with 57% declines across the species’ historical range, finds new research led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey. These data are in line with trends for other once common bumblebees in the United States, like the rusty patched and American, of which the former is now listed as endangered and the latter is under consideration. Most critically, the study authors did not simply generalize the most likely and common reasons, but instead establish the contribution that pesticide use, climate change, and land use changes have on western bumblebee declines. As the study shows, both the drivers and solutions to pollinators declines are in human hands, necessitating a broad rethinking of the nation’s approach to energy use and food production. The western bumblebee has been under considerable stress for decades. In the 1990s, there were attempts to commercialize the species as a greenhouse pollinator. This industrial approach resulted in the spread of a fungal disease called Vairimorpha bombi, and captive rearing of the western bumblebee was eventually halted and deemed untenable. These dislocations resulted in local declines of the species in certain regions of U.S. Northwest […]

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23
Jan

EPA, USDA and Interior Challenged to Incorporate in All Decisions Impact on Climate Crisis, from Soil to Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2023) There is no doubt that the climate crisis is upon us. And the consequences are undeniably grave. So, we must incorporate our understanding of the grave health and environmental effects into the deliberations on all policy decisions regarding petrochemical pesticide registrations and synthetic fertilizer use in agriculture and nonagricultural land management. Of critical importance, in this context, is the effect of policy decisions on soil health—in particular, soil organic carbon, which sequesters atmospheric carbon and reduces its damaging atmospheric effects. Tell USDA, EPA, and Congress to incorporate in ALL its policy decisions an analysis of impact on the climate crisis, with particular attention to the protection of soil health. Although the soil is commonly recognized as a sink for atmospheric carbon, there is a false narrative that says carbon can be sequestered in the soil through chemical-intensive no-till agriculture. Now the Rodale Institute’s 40-Year Report on their “Farming Systems Trial” should end the myth of the toxic, petrochemical-based, GMO-herbicide, no-till systems. Rodale’s scientific trials clearly show that these degenerative no-till systems are inferior to Regenerative Organic Agriculture on every key criterion. The highest yields of corn in the tilled organic manure system and the best increases […]

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09
Jan

Calling for Reform of Pesticide Regulation to Address Health, Biodiversity, and Climate Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2023) The Biden EPA still needs a new vision in order to meet the existential crises in public health, climate change, and biodiversity. The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by the EPA in decades. Despite a broad new perspective embodied in President Biden’s Executive Memorandum (EM) Modernizing Regulatory Review issued on his first day in office, the Biden EPA has not adopted a new direction for regulating pesticides. Tell President Biden, EPA, and Congress to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden issued the EM, which directs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This EM could reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). The President’s EM sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to […]

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21
Dec

Survey Technique Increases Agricultural Resiliency and Protects Pollinators; Higher Species Diversity in Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2022) Imagine plucking a flower and being able to find out every insect that recently visited that plant. Utilizing cutting-edge metabarcoding techniques, a team of Danish researchers has made that possibility a reality. By evaluating the environmental DNA (eDNA) left behind by insect pollinators alongside visual assessment surveys, a new study is providing an innovative way for farmers to improve pollination and protect on-farm biodiversity. Ultimately, study author Lene Sigsgaard, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen believes that, “With more knowledge of the pollinators in apples and other crops, we can begin to provide tailor-made flower mixes for individual crops, and improve our knowledge on the value of the surrounding landscape for wild pollinators.” Scientists focused on four different apple orchards throughout Denmark, three of which utilize pesticides (though only one sprayed during the study period), and another following organic practices. For each orchard, five apple flowers were collected from four separate rows. These flowers were then brought to the laboratory from DNA extraction. Scientists also conducted visual monitoring, whereby an observer stood between two orchard rows and recorded all flower visitors within roughly eight feet of themselves. The two methods of observation provide somewhat differing, […]

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09
Dec

UN Again Calls for Action as Biodiversity Deterioration Worsens Worldwide

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2022) Representatives from more than 195 countries have descended on Montreal for the December 7 start of COP15 — the United Nation’s (UN’s) Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UN Development Programme sets out the context for this summit: “Despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide, and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual. The loss of biodiversity comes at a great cost for human well-being and the global economy.” Beyond Pesticides has documented many aspects of this decline in biodiversity, and the implications for ecosystem, human, and planetary health. In this COP15 context, the data points to the importance of broad adoption of organic regenerative / agroecological systems, which can very significantly address the interactive health, biodiversity, and climate crises. Close on the heels of November’s UN COP27 summit on climate, COP15 has commenced, with the goal of adopting a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (CBF) to provide “a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.” The first such summit was called the Convention on Biological Diversity and was held in 1993. Out of […]

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02
Dec

Climate-Friendly Organic Systems are More Profitable for Farmers than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2022) The longest-running — four-decade — investigation comparing organic and conventional grain-cropping approaches in North America is reporting impressive results for organic. Recently announced in the Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial — 40-Year Report are these outcomes: (1) organic systems achieve 3–6 times the profit of conventional production; (2) yields for the organic approach are competitive with those of conventional systems (after a five-year transition period); (3) organic yields during stressful drought periods are 40% higher than conventional yields; (4, 5, and 6) organic systems leach no toxic compounds into nearby waterways (unlike pesticide-intensive conventional farming), use 45% less energy than conventional, and emit 40% less carbon into the atmosphere. Beyond Pesticides reported in 2019 on similar results, from the institute’s 30-year project mark, which have been borne out by another three years of the trials. The current report builds on results from the FST that were shared in the RI’s 2020 white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming,” which integrated the newest research data and offered action steps for consumers, policymakers, farmers, and others. That report asserted that a global switch to a regenerative food system could not […]

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27
Nov

Tackling Climate Crisis with Elimination of Toxic Pesticides and Fertilizers, Webinar Nov. 29—What Is Practical Now

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2022) On Tuesday, November 29 (at 1:00-2:30pmEST), two preeminent researchers will present their research and worldwide collaborative work to fully characterize the effects of the climate crisis and the viable solutions associated with land management. The Forum headliners are (i) Rachel Bezner Kerr, PhD, Cornell University professor just back from COP 27 [27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] and co-author of the definitive United Nations (UN) report on climate and food production and (ii) Andrew Smith, PhD, chief operating officer of the Rodale Institute and coauthor of several landmark reports on soil biology and carbon sequestration, including the just released Farming Systems Trial—40-Year Report. With livability of the planet on the brink, the speakers at the upcoming Forum make the case to immediately reverse the increase of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane to stop the changes on the horizon that destroy life—from floods, fires, and associated climate-induced hazards to food production. The good news, according to the scientists, is that there are solutions available now in the agricultural and land management sectors that can reverse the threat if dramatic changes are made. Dr. Bezner Kerr, […]

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23
Nov

Study Finds that Pollinators, Not Pesticides, Are More Important to Higher Crop Yields

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2022) A new study throws into question the value of the pest management concept of setting action levels around pest infestations. In the course of watermelon production over a span of two years, pollination, not pest levels, was the key determining factor for yield. “These data advocate for a reprioritization of management, to conserve and protect wild bee pollination, which could be more critical than avoiding pest damage for ensuring high yields,” the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, indicates. Action levels are considered an important aspect of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach in agriculture, whereby a pest infestation reaches levels considered economically unacceptable, leading to a decision to engage in pest control. The concept of IPM however has been influenced by the chemical industry over the decades since its original definition and recent data indicates that it has failed to stop toxic pesticide use. The original intent of IPM was the adoption of preventive practices and utilization of nonchemical tools, placing pesticide use as a last resort when pest control is warranted. However, farms that self-identify as IPM operations use pesticides, sometimes as the first line of defense, while attempting to […]

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