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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'neonicotinoids' Category


15
Aug

Chemical-Intensive Agriculture Is Increasingly Toxic to Insects

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2019) An article in the journal Plos One, “An assessment of acute insecticide toxicity loading (AITL) of chemical pesticides used on agricultural land in the United States,” shows that recent shifts in insecticide use—from organophosphates and carbamates to synthetic pyrethroids and neonicotinoids—have made a large contribution to the ongoing insect apocalypse. This shift to insecticides that target insects based on both selective toxicity and delivery method occurs within a context of shrinking habitat and biodiversity. The study, by Michael DiBartolomeis, PhD, Susan Kegley, PhD, Pierre Mineau, PhD, Rosemarie Radford, and Kendra Klein, PhD, presents a measure of acute insecticide toxicity loading that incorporates acute toxicity, quantity used, and the rate at which the insecticide degrades. Goulson et al. applied a similar measure in Great Britain that did not incorporate the rate of degradation. Both studies use the median lethal dose (LD50) to honey bees as a measure of acute toxicity and calculate the potential number of bee deaths based on the number of lethal doses of various insecticides applied in the field. In both cases, researchers used toxicity estimates for honey bees because they are widely available. Other insects may be more or less sensitive. The […]

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08
Jul

Pesticide-Intensive Agriculture Contributes to Severe Monarch Butterfly Decline through Milkweed Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019) Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor — exposure during monarchs’ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research team’s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, “Although seed treatment data are no longer reported for U.S. […]

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25
Jun

Study Finds Synergism between Neonicotinoids and Parasites Leads to 70% Declines in Honey Bee Survival

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) A study finds that the interaction of a common honey bee parasite with neonicotinoid insecticides causes 70% reductions in overwintering honey bee survival. These results help to explain the unsustainable honey bee colony losses observed in recent decades. Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects. Studies show that neonicotinic residues accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants, and, given their widespread use and known toxic effects, there is major concern that neonics play a major contributing role in pollinator declines. In the early 2000s, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) brought national attention to increased honey bee colony losses. During the same period that CCD and colony losses spiked, neonic prevalence skyrocketed, in large part due to the introduction of seed-delivered technologies. As of 2011, 34-44% of soybeans and 79-100% of maize hectares were preemptively treated with neonics. While CCD prevalence has decreased, colony loss rates (and systemic insecticide use) remain high. A 2018 national survey indicates that U.S. beekeepers currently experience an average annual colony mortality rate of 30.7%, double the pre-CCD baseline of 15% losses. In the present study, […]

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20
Jun

Customers Demand Kroger Stop Selling Food Grown with Bee-killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2019) To mark National Pollinator Week (June 17-23), more than 10,000 people across the country are joining to demand that Kroger (NYSE: KR) help stop the extreme decline of pollinators. Customers are delivering letters to stores asking the nation’s largest conventional grocery store to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides from its food supply chain and increase domestic organic food offerings to help stop the catastrophic decline of pollinators and other insects. Pollinators and other insects could go extinct within a century, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems,” the first comprehensive global meta-analysis of insect decline states. This is largely due to the widespread use of neonicotinoids and other toxic insecticides in industrial agriculture. “Systemic neonicotinoid insecticides and the broad range of pesticides that harm people and pollinators have no place in our food supply,” said Drew Toher, community resource and policy director at Beyond Pesticides. “Kroger customers are asking the company to be part of the solution to the pollinator crisis by eliminating hazardous pesticides and expanding organic options.” “To avoid the ‘bee apocalypse’ it is critical that Kroger immediately commit to stop selling food with pollinator-toxic pesticides,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at […]

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19
Jun

Loophole “Emergency” Use of Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor Approved During Pollinator Week

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2019) On June 17, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again approved “emergency” uses of sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic insecticide, on millions of acres of crops that are attractive to bees. Sulfoxaflor is functionally identical to the neonicotinoid class of systemic pesticides, which are readily absorbed and translocated by the plant, including its pollen and nectar. These insecticides are substantial contributors to the dramatic decline of pollinators and what is now recognized as a global insect apocalypse. In 2015, beekeepers sued to suspend the use of sulfoxaflor. A year later, in 2016 the chemical’s registration was amended with the specific exclusion of crops such as cotton and sorghum that attract bees, essentially acting as an aromatic draw to poison. EPA regularly utilizes the “emergency exemption” rule under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to circumvent these restrictions. The Center for Biological Diversity reports, “Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same ‘emergency.’ Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years.” The EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recognized the broad misuse of Section 18. A 2018 report from OIG notes […]

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10
Jun

Take Action: Support Legislation to Protect Pollinators and Ecosystems of National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2019) On May 20, U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, with 18 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 2854, “To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of neonicotinoids in a National Wildlife Refuge, and for other purposes.” The bill follows an August 2018 Trump administration announcement that reversed a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoid insecticides on National Wildlife Refuges. Tell members of Congress to protect biodiversity by co-sponsoring HR 2854, which reinstates the 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ban on neonicotinoid pesticide use in wildlife refuges that was reversed by the Trump administration in 2018. The administration’s action threatens not only pollinators, but contributes to the attack on biodiversity worldwide. “These pollutants upset the delicate ecosystems of our Wildlife Refuges and they have no place in our public lands,” said Rep.VelĂĄzquez. “The ban’s revocation comes as mounting evidence suggests the chemical has damaging environmental effects on bees and other pollinators, undermining the national wildlife system,” she continued. In 2014, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically engineered crops) by January 2016. FWS “determined that prophylactic use, such as […]

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23
May

Fulfilling Legal Settlement with Limited Scope, EPA Cancels Twelve Neonicotinoid Products

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2019) On Monday in the conclusion of a lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final notices of cancellation on the registration of twelve neonicotinoid pesticide products in the Federal Register, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient. The decision to pull these products from the market was required as part of a legal settlement under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2018 of a successful case, Ellis v. EPA, brought by beekeeper Steve Ellis and a coalition of other beekeepers and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides. The case establishes a legal precedent in which the court required action to address the bee-toxic effects of pesticides; however, the effect of the settlement and its impact on overall neonicotinoid and other systemic insecticide use is limited. For all but two of the twelve canceled products, a nearly identical surrogate remains actively registered. Furthermore, the fact remains that there are hundreds more products containing the active ingredients targeted by the lawsuit that have not been removed in any capacity – 106 products containing clothianidin and 95 containing thiamethoxam remain untouched on the market. Breaking down the impacts of the EPA ruling even […]

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06
May

Flight Distance of Bumblebees Impaired by Pesticide, Leads to 87% Decline in Accessible Forage Area

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2019) Beleaguered pollinators deal with a multitude of human-engineered threats: habitat fragmentation and loss via development and agricultural intensification, ecosystems and food sources tainted with toxic synthetic pesticides, and shrinking food sources via habitat and biodiversity loss. Research out of the Imperial College of London shows that such challenges are exacerbated, for bumblebees, by another impact of pesticide exposure — impaired flight endurance and dynamics. Published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in late April, ”Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduced flight endurance in bumblebees” examines how acute exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid affects the nature of bumblebee foraging flight. The study’s researchers find that worker bumblebees so exposed exhibit significant diminishment of flight endurance — measured as both distance and duration — to approximately one-third of what control workers demonstrate. This new information, aggregated with the many other factors that threaten pollinators, points to the importance of ending the use of chemical controls, such as the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, and transitioning to organic systems of agricultural pest management that do not rely on toxic compounds that harm wildlife, ecosystems, water resources, and humans. Previous research has shown numerous impacts of pesticide exposure on bumblebees, and of neonicotinoid exposure, in […]

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02
May

Neonicotinoid Insecticide Residues in Food and Water on the Rise, According to USDA Data

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2019) Researchers have documented an increase in food and drinking water residues of neonicotinoids, insecticides linked to breast cancer. Using the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), 1999-2015, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the researchers identified near-peak detection frequencies in 2015, after a decline from 2008-2013. Imidacloprid remains the most common neonicotinoid detected across imported commodities, while the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, and flonicamid are replacing imidacloprid in domestic production. Authors note that these newer neonicotinoids are potentially more toxic than imidacloprid, raising concerns for understudied human health and environmental impacts. The study, Trends in neonicotinoid pesticide residues in food and water in the United States, 1999–2015, published in the journal Environmental Health, finds the highest detection frequencies for neonicotinoids in drinking water, with 30% of treated drinking water turning out positive for imidacloprid in 2011. Certain fruits and vegetables are also frequently contaminated by neonicotinoids, with detection frequencies ranging from 20% to as high as 57% in the case of imidacloprid on cauliflower. While the study points to specific fruits and vegetables as posing higher risk, the main message reaches beyond individual commodity or individual neonicotinoid results. Authors uncover a systematic increase in detection of neonicotinoid […]

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19
Apr

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Found to Disrupt Insects’ Vision and Flying Ability

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2019) Flying insects exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides or its breakdown products experience visual impairment and difficulty flying, according to a study published in the journal NeuroToxicology by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. While at face value these impacts may sound non-lethal, any loss of fitness in the wild can make flying insects an easier meal for their predators. “Our findings suggest that very low doses of the pesticide or its metabolic products can profoundly and negatively affect motion detection systems that flying insects, such as locusts, grasshoppers and bees, need for survival,” said Jack Gray, PhD, an expert in neural control of animal behavior at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers used locusts as proxies for other flying insects, as the visual processing in their brains is easy to track in laboratory settings. Moreover, as study co-author Rachel Parkinson notes, “Bees and other flying insects use similar neural mechanisms to process visual motion,” making the implications of this study applicable to a wide range of other airborne insects. And rather than simply focus on the effects of exposure to a single active ingredient, researchers also studied whether its breakdown products (metabolites) resulted in similar impairment. […]

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12
Apr

Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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25
Mar

Take Action: Help Stop Pesticide-Treated Seeds from Poisoning the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2019) EPA is using a regulatory loophole – the “treated articles exemption” – to allow systemic insecticides to be used in mass quantities, without regulating or labeling them as required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA does not currently assess adverse effects on the environment and public health caused by widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides delivered through seeds coated with the insecticides, resulting in widespread exposure to one of the most environmentally damaging classes of chemicals on the market. Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must fully regulate treated seeds to protect the environment and public health. Pesticide-coated seeds are now ubiquitous, yet their far-reaching impacts on wildlife and human health continue to go unregulated. The introduction and spread of seed-delivered pesticides to major field crops, beginning around 2003, caused a massive increase in total neonicotinoid use nationwide. As of 2011, 34 to 44% of soybeans and 79 to 100% of maize acres were planted with coated seeds, accounting for an astounding 35-fold increase in nationwide neonicotinoid use from baseline rates prior to 2003 (Douglas and Tooker, 2015). Alarmingly, because the national pesticide survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service fails to […]

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22
Mar

Study Finds that Commonly Occurring Levels of Neonicotinoid Insecticide Harm White-tailed Deer

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2019) A two-year study, published March 14,  finds that field-relevant contamination with the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid causes reduced body weight and metabolism in white-tailed deer, and – in fawns – mortality. Remarkably, researchers uncovered imidacloprid levels in free-ranging deer a full 3.5 times higher, on average, than the levels in the animals treated in their experiment. These new findings add to the mounting evidence of the hazards posed by current patterns of neonicotinoid use, while evidence of benefits remains sparse. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, includes two years of data on the physiological and behavioral outcomes of imidacloprid contamination in 80 white-tailed deer housed in a South Dakota State University captive research facility. Notably, researchers were unable to entirely control imidacloprid levels in untreated deer, most likely due to background contamination from corn- and soy-based feed, and surrounding vegetation infiltrated by runoff from nearby agricultural fields. This background contamination altered, but did not compromise, the analysis. Researchers found that imidacloprid levels detected in the spleens of treated and control animals were significantly predictive of reduced thyroid hormone levels, shorter jawbones, lower activity levels, and higher fawn mortality. Lead authors Elise Berheim, Jonathan Jenks, PhD, […]

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19
Mar

Not Just Bumble and Honey: Ground Nesting Bees Impaired by Neonicotinoid Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2019) Research is beginning to explain how systemic neonicotinoid insecticides affect often overlooked species of ground nesting bees. While much of the current scientific literature has focused on the impacts of pesticides to bumblebees and honey bees, a study, Chronic contact with realistic soil concentrations of imidacloprid affects the mass, immature development speed, and adult longevity of solitary bees, recently published in Scientific Reports, confirms that wild, soil-dwelling bees are at similar risk. As policy makers consider ways to protect pollinators, this research finds that uncontaminated soil is an important aspect of ensuring the health of wild, native bees. “This is an important piece of work because it’s one of the first studies to look at realistic concentrations of pesticides that you would find in the soil as a route of exposure for bees,” said Nick Anderson, co-author of the study. “It’s a very under-explored route, especially for some of the more solitary species that nest in the ground.” In order to study the impact of neonicotinoids on ground nesting bees, researchers used orchard mason bees and leafcutter bees as proxies, as they are easier to gather and rear in the lab, and have a similar ecology […]

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13
Mar

Pesticide Exposure Alters Gene Expression in Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2019) A study on the impact of two neonicotinoid pesticides shows differential gene expression in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) after exposure. Considering the current worldwide plight of insects, the authors of point to the cutting edge research as both a reason and a methodology to more carefully examine the effects of pesticides. “Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees” was published in the journal Molecular Ecology in early March. Researchers fed variable colonies with clothianidin or imidacloprid-laced sucrose. They analyzed gene expression in the heads of worker bumblebees and colony queens using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), inspired by biomedical techniques. This approach allowed for new insight on what genes and pathways are affected by neonicotinoid exposure. Study author Yannick Wurm, PhD, stated in a press release, “Our work demonstrates that the type of high-resolution molecular approach that has changed the way human diseases are researched and diagnosed, can also be applied to beneficial pollinators. This approach provides an unprecedented view of how bees are being affected by pesticides and works at large scale. It can fundamentally improve how we evaluate the toxicity of chemicals we put into nature.” Clothianidin had a stronger […]

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07
Mar

Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Insecticide Exposure Linked to Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2019) A publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives highlights findings from a recent study showing that environmental concentrations of the neonicotinoid insecticides thiacloprid and imidacloprid increase expression of a gene linked to hormone-dependent breast cancer. Authors of the featured study uncovered a pathway through which neonicotinoids stimulate excess estrogen production, known to occur during the development of progressive hormone-dependent breast cancer. In the words of the authors, “Our findings highlight the need for further research to assess the potential impacts of low-dose and chronic exposure to neonicotinoids on endocrine processes affecting women’s health.” The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2018 by researchers at the University of Quebec, is not the first to point to a potential link between neonicotinoid exposure and breast cancer. A 2015 study by the same research group revealed that the neonicotinoids thiacloprid and thiamethoxam, along with the herbicide atrazine, induce similar effects in breast cancer cells. In both studies, exposure to neonicotinoids alter promoter activity to induce heightened production of the enzyme aromatase, which is known to stimulate estrogen production and thereby cancer cell proliferation. The recently published study, authored by Silke Schmidt, PhD, brings greater urgency to […]

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04
Mar

Take Action: Saving America’s Pollinators Act Reintroduced in Congress

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2019) Last week, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R.1337) to cancel specific bee-toxic pesticides and establish a review and cancellation process for all pesticides that are potentially harmful to pollinators. The specific pesticides targeted in the bill include the systemic insecticides imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, acetamiprid, sulfoxaflor, flupyradifurone, and fipronil. The bill also establishes requirements for review of other potentially bee-toxic chemicals by an independent pollinator protection board, and requires annual reports on the health and population status of pollinators. The bill creates a sustainable model for pollinator protection in the face of ongoing obstruction by an increasingly industry-influenced EPA. There are 29 cosponsors to date. The current bill is the fifth version of Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA), which was first introduced by U.S. Representative Conyers (D-MI) in 2013. The newest version differs from previous bills in its bold definition of who should have responsibility for assessing harm to pollinators. SAPA 2019 calls for the establishment of a Pollinator Protection Board, to be composed of expert scientists, beekeepers, farmers, members of environmental organizations and other key stakeholders, nearly all of whom must not have any conflict of interest or affiliation […]

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26
Feb

Take Action: Ask the Largest Food Retailer to Lead the Way and Stop Selling Food Grown with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2019) Breakfast cereal, apples, applesauce and pinto beans made and sold by Kroger contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of series health and environmental problems, according to a residue study by Friends of the Earth. This is alarming. Kid-friendly food like applesauce and Cheerios should not contain dangerous pesticides. Kids are the most vulnerable to these pesticides and shouldn’t be exposed to brain-damaging or cancer-causing pesticides when they eat their breakfast or snacks. The connection between pesticides and cancer, learning disabilities, and other diseases is supported by hundreds of studies in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. These new tests, which corroborate numerous residue studies, mean that Kroger customers may be purchasing food with the intent of providing safe and healthy food for their families, but end up unknowingly exposing them to toxic pesticides. Join the national week of action by either delivering a letter to Kroger in person, or sending an email to Kroger Chief Executive Rodney McMullen. The pesticides found in Kroger’s food are harmful to human health and pollinators. Friends of the Earth found residues of cancer-causing glyphosate, brain-damaging organophosphates, and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Organophosphates can cause damage to children’s developing brains, including reduced IQ, loss […]

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13
Feb

Adding to Residue Studies, Report Documents Toxic Pesticides in Common Foods Sold by Major Retailers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2019) Friends of the Earth (FOE) released a report last week again showing pesticide residues in the food supply. The report, Toxic Secret, found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers — Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. Among the pesticides found is the herbicide glyphosate, confirming residue testing results found in numerous studies. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has has been detected in popular foods, including “100% pure” honey, Doritos, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz Crackers, German beers, California wines, and UK bread. Glyphosate has been ranked as potentially cancer causing in humans and adversely affects the human gut microbiome. See Residue Testing Find More Glyphosate in Popular Cereals. The FOE study finds that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more […]

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07
Feb

Study Finds State Pollinator Protections Fall Short

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2019) A new study, released in Environmental Science and Policy, systematically reviews all state-level pollinator protection acts passed since 2000 and makes a somewhat dim diagnosis: as a rule, state policies fall far below the mark for protecting invaluable ecosystem services and ensuring long-term, sustainable food production. Authors judge the legislation against a set of pollinator protection policy benchmarks established in 2016 by a group of scientists from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Citing the ten policy recommendations laid out by IPBES experts, researchers point to the failure of all enacted state policies to address three main target areas – (1) to improve genetically modified crop risk assessment, (2) to incentivize farmers to make the switch from agrochemical dependence to sustainable benefits from ecosystem services, and, critically, (3) to support diversified farming systems. Beyond Pesticides notes one additional missed target: (4) funding for research on organic, diversified, and ecologically intensified farming. The study includes a total of 109 state laws passed from 2000 to 2017, which authors tracked down by searching usa.gov and state legislative websites and by submitting requests to state librarians. To uncover common themes and patterns among these […]

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16
Jan

Western Monarchs Experience Catastrophic Declines Over the Last Year

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2019) Preliminary counts in California indicate the western monarch butterfly population dropped 86% from 2017 to 2018. The survey is a result of an annual effort by volunteer citizen scientists, organized by the nonprofit organization Xerces Society. If the trend from the initial sample (97 sites) holds true, the population of overwintering butterflies is estimated to be less than 30,000 – 0.05% of its historical size. Full and vetted results will be published in late January. To get an accurate count of monarch populations, volunteers follow a monitoring guide, which recommends beginning a count on a still, cool, and dry morning so that monarchs are still clustered together. Volunteers count a small cluster of monarchs and then extrapolate that number to arrive at a total for the larger cluster they’re observing. Citizen science has been crucial to understanding the decline of monarchs and insects worldwide. As covered by The New York Times, the current “Insect Apocalypse” has largely been documented by volunteers. The dismal numbers recorded this year are potentially disastrous, as the predicted extinction threshold for overwintering western monarchs is a population of 30,000. However this threshold, based on population densities needed for thermoregulation and mating […]

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04
Jan

Settlement Bans Some Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Requires Public Comment Period on Testing All Pesticide Product Ingredients and Regulating Pesticide-Treated Seeds

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2019) First, the good news: plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can allow themselves a small victory dance. In that suit, plaintiffs made a number of claims related to EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides, its poor oversight of the bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam, and its practice of “conditional registration,” as well as labeling deficiencies. The parties in the suit negotiated a settlement, as directed by a federal judge (see below), that was signed in October 2018 and portends some positive movement in curtailing the use of some toxic pesticides [12 products, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient] that harm pollinators in particular, as well as other organisms and the environment. It also establishes a public process for EPA to consider requiring whole formulations of pesticide products during registration, and redefining EPA’s interpretation of law that allows seeds treated with bee-toxic pesticides to escape regulation as a pesticide. The suit was brought by a number of individual beekeepers and several organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Sierra Club, and Center for Environmental Health, and named as defendants Steven Bradbury, then-director of the […]

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03
Dec

Take Action: Protect Biodiversity – Reinstate the Ban of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2018) In August 2018, the Trump administration announced a reversal of a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoid insecticides on National Wildlife Refuges. The administration’s action threatens not only pollinators, but contributes to the attack on biodiversity worldwide.  Tell Congress to protect biodiversity by insisting that the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in wildlife refuges be reinstated. In 2014, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically engineered crops) by January 2016. FWS “determined that prophylactic use, such as a seed treatment, of the neonicotinoid pesticides that can distribute systemically in a plant and can potentially affect a broad spectrum of non-target species is not consistent with Service policy. We make this decision based on a precautionary approach to our wildlife management practices and not on agricultural practices.” This move was not only intended to protect honey bees that have suffered average losses above 30% since 2006, but also the federally threatened and endangered pollinators that live in National Wildlife Refuges. However, it is not just pollinators who are affected. Recent research has found dramatic drops in overall insect abundance, leading entomologists to speak of an “insect apocalypse.” Various studies have found reductions of up to […]

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