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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'neonicotinoids' Category


11
May

Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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16
Apr

Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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13
Apr

“No Pollinator is Safe” — New Evidence of Neonicotinoids Harming Wild, Ground Nesting Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2021) A new study is making it increasingly clear that current laws are not protecting wild, ground nesting bees from the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides. According to research conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osima spp) are at particular risk from pesticide-contaminated soil they use to create their nest. Authors of the study note that with honey bees already in decline, pollination services provided wild managed bees like Mason bees are growing in importance. “Wild bees such as Osmia are becoming increasingly popular as managed pollinators in many systems, as there is growing concern that honeybees may not be able to continue to meet the increasing demands of agricultural pollination if these trends continue,” the study reads. The study looked at three overarching threats to mason bee populations, aiming to identify risks from pesticide contaminated soil used as a nest, effects on larvae exposed to contaminated soil, and whether female mason bees could determine the difference between contaminated and uncontaminated soil. “Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees,” said Christine Fortuin, PhD, […]

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08
Apr

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

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

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29
Mar

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

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

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10
Mar

Minnesota Deer Threatened by Ubiquitous Neonicotinoid Contamination, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2021) Deer populations throughout the state of Minnesota are contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, according to preliminary results published earlier this month by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Although neonicotinoids are mostly known for contributing to the decline of pollinator populations, like most pesticides brought to market with approval of an inadequate U.S. regulatory review process, there are considerable uncertainties on its impacts after it is released into the environment. As scientists continue to discover novel harms from the use of these systemic insecticides, advocates say it becomes increasingly important to eliminate their use, and take preventive, precautionary measures to ensure similar patterns do not emerge in the future. MDNR launched its testing project on the state’s deer population in Fall 2019, after a study published by researchers at South Dakota State University found harmful impacts on white-tail deer. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid was found to reduce the body weight and metabolism of white tailed deer and increase the rate of birth defects and mortality in fawns. The state asked deer hunters to send them the spleens they harvested from wild deer. “We wanted to know if wild deer in natural settings are being exposed to neonics and […]

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02
Mar

Solitary Wild Bees Harmed by Neonicotinoid Pesticides Applied by Soil Drenching

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2021) Populations of solitary ground nesting bees decline after exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides, according to a study published in Scientific Reports late last month. In addition to ground-nesting bees, neonicotinoids have been shown to harm butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, aquatic species and mammals, including humans. As independent science continues to look beyond the effects of these systemic chemicals on honey and bumblebees, advocates maintain that it has become increasingly clear that the high hazards presented by neonicotinoids necessitate their complete elimination. “Farmers need to protect their crops from pests, but they also absolutely need to protect pollinators from the unintended effects of pesticides,” said study coauthor Susan Willis Chan, PhD. “The data on this particular [neonicotinoid] product are so clear that there’s really no question about what has to happen. We have to find something else.” Researchers focused their effort investigating how various systemic pesticides effect the hoary squash bee (Eucera pruinosa), a ground nesting bee found throughout North America that feeds entirely on pollen from cucurbits (including squash, cucumber, pumpkin, gourds, etc). The hoary squash bee provides essential pollinator services for these crops throughout the U.S. and Canada. Neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides are often applied […]

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23
Feb

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

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

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02
Feb

Court Settlement Requires EPA to Review How Bee-Killing Pesticide Harms Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will evaluate the effect of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid on endangered species, after an agreement was reached between the agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Imidacloprid is one of the most commonly used insecticides in the world today and, like other neonicotinoids in its chemical class, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts on wildlife and their habitat. While the agreement to the assess effects on endangered species is important, advocates note that EPA should already have conducted this review, and further, that imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids should already be banned. NRDC’s successful lawsuit follows a separate legal challenge by the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and other environmental organizations which was settled in 2019. The judge in that case, focused on the neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, did not order EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (which is required when registering a pesticide in order to mitigate risks to endangered species). Instead, she directed the parties, including the plaintiffs, defendant EPA, and intervenor Bayer CropScience (the manufacturer of neonicotinoids), to move forward […]

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13
Jan

Ethanol Plant Processing Pesticide Coated Seeds Contaminates Nebraska Town

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2021) An ethanol processing plant located in the small village of Mead, Nebraska has been using seeds coated in bee-toxic chemicals as part of its production process, according to reporting published in The Guardian earlier this week. The plant, owned by a company called AltEn, may be the only plant in the U.S. producing biofuels with toxic seeds. There is a reason for that, and Mead residents are experiencing the adverse effects of EPA not regulating treated seeds. The prevalence of the use of seed coatings in chemical agriculture has increased over the last several decades, as the pesticide industry works to increase product sales by exploiting a loophole in federal pesticide law. Under FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), a clause known as the “treated article exemption” permits seeds to be coated with highly toxic pesticides without any requirement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess environmental or public health effects of their use. This allows hazardous pesticides (primarily insecticides and fungicides) to be used indiscriminately with no effective oversight. Research finds that over 150 million acres of farmland are planted with toxic seeds, including nearly four tons of bee-killing neonicotinoids […]

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11
Nov

Bees Lose Sleep Over Pesticides, Adding Stress and Increasing Risk of Death

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2020) Neonicotinoid insecticides inhibit honey bee sleep cycles, leading to stress and population declines, according to research from Vanderbilt University, published in Scientific Reports. Although there is already ample evidence of the dangers these systemic insecticides pose to pollinators – as evidenced by recent bans in the European Union and Canada – this new line of investigation add further detail to the ongoing crisis in the pollinator world. “I was thinking about honey bee disappearances and it clicked—if pesticides are killing bees indirectly but we don’t know exactly how, maybe it’s because they’re getting physically lost,” said study coauthor Michael Tackenberg, PhD.  Scientists conducted the experiment using honey bees located on Vanderbilt’s campus, which does not use neonicotinoid insecticides. After returning from pollen collection, forager bees were captured at their hive entrance and moved into monitoring tubes, which were subsequently transferred to the lab. In the lab, scientists were able to control light and dark cycles, and exposed bees to levels neonicotinoids they would likely experience if foraging on contaminated flowers. Foraging bees were first exposed to light/dark at 12/12 cycles, followed by four days of complete darkness, at which time some bees were provided neonics, […]

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20
Oct

Combination of Pesticide Exposure, Limited Food Lead to Wild Bee Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2020) The additive stress of pesticide exposure and food scarcity leads to significant declines in wild pollinator populations, according to research published by scientists at University of California, Davis. Although it is well known that insect and pollinators populations are at risk from multiple stressors related to industrial agriculture, comprehensive evaluations are a challenging scientific undertaking. “Just like humans, bees don’t face one single stress or threat,” said lead author Clara Stuligross, a PhD. candidate in ecology at UC Davis. “Understanding how multiple stressors interplay is really important, especially for bee populations in agricultural systems, where wild bees are commonly exposed to pesticides and food can be scarce.” To better understand the interplay between these two stressors, researchers designed a field study. Mason bee pollinators were provided cages to nest in, and each stressor was separated out. One set of bees were provided high levels of food availability, while another received scant floral resources. Certain cages within each food level were treated with the product Admire Pro, a Bayer Cropscience insecticide containing the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists found significant impacts on the factors that deal with mason bees’ reproductive success. This includes the likelihood that a female […]

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07
Oct

Baltimore Becomes Latest Maryland Locality to Restrict Toxic Pesticides on Public and Private Property

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2020) This week the Baltimore, Maryland City Council passed an ordinance restricting the use of toxic pesticides on public and private property—including lawns, playing fields, playgrounds, children’s facility (except school system property [golf courses are exempt]—following an approach similar to legislation first spearheaded by Montgomery County, MD in 2015. While the legislation, 20-0495, An Ordinance Concerning Pesticide Control and Regulation, generally limits inputs to the allowed materials under federal organic law, it provides for allowances for glyphosate by the Department of  Recreation and Parks. If signed by the Mayor, as expected, Baltimore City will become the most recent Maryland jurisdiction to exercise its authority to regulate pesticide use on private property, after a ruling of the state’s highest court. Language in the Baltimore ordinance tracks a similar framework to the Healthy Lawns Act passed in Montgomery County, Maryland. Any pesticide that is not compatible with organic land care—allowed under certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—is subject to the bill’s restrictions. Use can only occur under limited exceptions, such as to manage particularly invasive species, as well as health or economic threats. Bee-toxic […]

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30
Sep

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Trigger Neurodegeneration and Can Blind Insects at Low Doses

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2020) Low doses of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides are known to disrupt insect learning and behavior, but new science is providing a better understanding of how these effects manifest at a cellular level. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this study finds that the neonic imidacloprid binds to brain receptors, triggering oxidative stress, reducing energy levels, and causing neurodegeneration. “Although many studies have shown that low doses of insecticides can affect insect behavior, they have not uncovered whether insecticides trigger changes at the cellular and molecular levels,” said lead author Felipe Martelli, PhD, of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. “The goal of this work was to have a better understanding of the effects of low doses of the common insecticide imidacloprid at the cellular, physiological and behavioral levels.” Researchers used the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogaster, a common experimental organism, as it contains a number of nicotinic acetylchloline receptors, the primary site of action for imidaclorpid. The neonic binds to these receptors, which regulate a number of physiological processes, such muscle contraction. Binding closes these channels, leading to the range of harm researchers observed through their study. Larval fuit flies were exposed to imidacloprid […]

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26
Aug

Neonicotinoids Harm Shrimp and Oyster Health, Decrease Nutritional Value

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2020) Neonicotinoid insecticides damage the health of shrimp and oysters, according to two (1, 2) new studies published by Australian researchers. Although this class of chemicals is best known for its hazardous impacts on pollinator populations, it is becoming increasingly clear that the entire food chain is at risk from continued neonicotinoid use. This study builds on an already established body of literature showing these systemic chemicals poison waterways. Researchers began by collecting samples of shrimp and oysters from growers along the coast, and acclimating the species to laboratory conditions. Both collections were separated into different test groups. Oysters where exposed in their tanks to various concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Shrimp were exposed to imidacloprid through two methods: in their feed, and in their tanks. Each separate test group was further separated into high and low exposures. A control group that did not receive any pesticide exposure was also established in each experiment. For the oyster populations, scientists found a range of negative effects. Imidacloprid inhibits the proper functioning of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, a well-known impact of many pesticides that results in damage to the nervous system. Detoxification mechanisms are activated, and changes are observed […]

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16
Jul

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

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

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23
Jun

Insecticides the Pesticide Industry Said Were “Safer for Bees” Found to Stress and Kill Honey Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2020) Next-generation systemic insecticides, billed by the agrichemical industry as “safer for bees” than neonicotinoids, have been found to stress and kill honey bees. As reported, a study by researchers at Oregon State University in the journal PLOS One, sulfoxaflor and flupyradifurone (in the products Transform and Sivanto, respectively) were found to increase apoptosis (cell death) and increase oxidative stress in exposed honey bees. The study indicates that, “With the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for use of both flupyradifurone and sulfoxaflor, and with the growing concern regarding pollinator health, it is important to better understand any potential negative impacts (especially sub-lethal) of these pesticides on bees.” However, this statement begs the question ‘why these two new bee-toxic pesticide were approved by EPA in the first place.’ This process is familiar and frustrating to those who continue to fight against the decline of pollinators: the chemical industry introduces and EPA approves new toxic pesticides marketed as “safer” to the specific problem caused by its older products, only to find out through independent and academic research that the problem is not solved in the least. Researchers conducted two exposure assessments: one six-hour long study, and another […]

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12
Jun

Milkweed in Western Monarch Habitat Found to be Completely Contaminated with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2020) New research finds that western monarch milkweed habitat contains a “ubiquity of pesticides” that are likely contributing to the decline of the iconic species. The research, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, provides a grim snapshot of a world awash in pesticides, and raises new questions about the U.S. regulatory process that continues to allow these toxic chemicals on to the market without adequate review and oversight. “We expected to find some pesticides in these plants, but we were rather surprised by the depth and extent of the contamination,” said Matt Forister, PhD, a butterfly expert, biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-author of the paper in a press release. “From roadsides, from yards, from wildlife refuges, even from plants bought at stores—doesn’t matter from where—it’s all loaded with chemicals. We have previously suggested that pesticides are involved in the decline of low elevation butterflies in California, but the ubiquity and diversity of pesticides we found in these milkweeds was a surprise,” Dr. Forister said. The researchers collected over 200 milkweed samples from nearly 20 different sites across the Central Valley of California, as well as from retailers that sell milkweed […]

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08
Jun

Take Action: EPA Considers “Emergency” Pesticide Use with Bee-Toxic Pesticide for 10th Year in a Row

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2020) EPA has received applications from the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for the “emergency” use of the bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticide dinotefuran to control brown marmorated stinkbugs in pome and stone fruits. These three states (and others) have received emergency exemptions for this use for the nine previous years and it must not be allowed for a tenth year. Rather than skirt the regulatory process of review, this use pattern must be subject to EPA registration review in combination with all other neonicotinoid uses. Sign the Petition to EPA and Send a Letter to Your Congressional Representative and Senators: EPA Must Deny Routine “Emergency” Exemptions As a neocotinoid insecticide, dinotefuran presents an alarming hazard to bees and other pollinators. Like other neonicotinoids, it is systemic and can indiscriminately poison any insects feeding on nectar, pollen, or exudates. It is also highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and soil organisms, as well as being highly persistent. In addition to the serious ecological impacts, dinotefuran is toxic to the immune system. This is, of course, an effect that should avoided during the coronavirus pandemic—when the immune system is under attack. Section 18 of the federal pesticide law (FIFRA—Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, […]

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23
Apr

Monarch Butterfly Larvae Adversely Affected by Pesticide Drift from Contiguous Soybean and Maize Crop Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2020) Pesticide spray drift from adjacent farmlands expose butterfly larvae to lethal pesticide concentrations, according to research published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry by Iowa State University (ISU). Lack of previous experimental pesticide toxicity data makes it unclear as to what degree insecticides impact monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) productivity in milkweed (Asclepias spp.) habitats near pesticide-treated pasture. This study adds weight to the idea that pesticides are playing a role in the ongoing decline of this iconic butterfly, as researchers find insecticide drift from adjacent fields to be strongly associated with larval mortality. Future monarch butterfly conservation efforts should consider risks stemming from pesticide exposure when developing butterfly rehabilitation efforts, according to advocates. As co-author Niranjana Krishnan (ISU graduate student) states, “In order to make the best decisions about how and where to plant milkweed, we first need to find basic toxicity and exposure data.”  ISU researchers established monarch butterfly colonies by collecting larvae from roadside milkweeds, which they then reared in the laboratory for incubation. To analyze the relative toxicity of various insecticides on monarch butterflies, researchers applied normal field-application rates of each pesticide at different larval development stages. Scientists used a bioassay to measure the […]

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16
Apr

Farmland Birds’ Exposure to Neonicotinoid-Treated Seeds (during Winter Seeding) Confirmed by Blood Plasma Tests

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2020) Pesticide exposure in farmland birds is a concomitant of pesticide-treated muesli (cereal) seed commonly planted during winter months, according to research published in Science of the Total Environment by United Kingdom (UK) scientists. Not only do pesticide-treated seeds pose the highest dietary risk to birds, but pesticide-treated seeds also go underreported as farmers often lack knowledge of what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. This study emphasizes the global effects of treated seeds, and their corresponding pesticide exposure, on bird species. Future risk assessments for bird should address these implications when implementing agricultural pesticide policies.  Farmers use of treated seeds exposes farmland birds to pesticides like neonicotinoids (neonics), including clothianidin (CLO). Pesticide residues then accumulate in the birds’ blood. UK scientists examined pesticides in farmland bird blood samples to connect the field-based use of treated seeds to clothianidin exposure patterns. At the time of this study, CLO was the most widely used pesticide on treated winter cereal seeds in the UK. Scientists recorded the presence of neonicotinoid-treated seed in 39 fields of 25 farms after seeding. Camera traps monitored farmland birds’ seed consumption. To measure CLO concentration in treated seed and seedling, scientists used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to identify inorganic, organic, […]

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09
Apr

Honey Bee Queens’ Exposure to Pesticides Weaken Reproductive Success and Colony Development

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2020) Honey bees (Apis mellifera) remain in severe decline, with U.S. beekeepers losing 30% of their managed colonies each year. A Texas A&M University (Dr. Juliana Rangel’s laboratory)  study provides evidence that chemical-intensive farming practices contaminate honey bee hives with pesticides that cause developmental delays. Researchers found that toxic pesticides adversely affect honey bee queen physiology and worker bee performance. Moreover, pesticides exacerbate the health risks associated with the declining honey bee population. When maturing honey bees’ exposure to pesticides is limited, there is an improvement in honey bee queen health and colony behavior. In agricultural settings, honey bees are exposed to an amalgamation of pesticides. AAFC and Texas A&M researchers determined which pesticides (miticides, insecticides, and fungicides) are commonly used in combination and then used those pesticide combinations to expose honey bees to field-realistic doses in the lab: tau-fluvalinate and coumaphos, amitraz, or chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos. Researchers cultivated maturing honey bee queens in plastic cups coated with either pesticide-free or pesticide-contaminated beeswax. Honey bee queens were transferred into hives upon maturation and bred naturally. Researchers measured their egg-laying frequency along with worker bee entourage size. Post-reproduction, scientists performed a bioassay (a measurement of substance potency or concentration effects on living cells) on […]

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31
Mar

What’s on My Seeds? Study Finds Most Don’t Know What Pesticides Coat the Seeds They Plant, including Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2020) Adding to the widespread and problematic use of neonicotinoid pesticides as seed treatments, a recent study published in BioScience finds that there are significant knowledge gaps among some farmers about the seeds they are planting. The research indicates that those gaps contribute to underreporting of accurate data on the use of pesticide-coated (often with neonicotinoid pesticides) seeds — because farmers may not know what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. Pennsylvania State University reports on the study, in Phys.org, saying, “This lack of data may complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies, while also protecting human health and the environment.” Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices that precludes the use of such pesticides.  The research was conducted by a team of scientist from around the U.S., led by Claudia Hitaj, PhD, of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, and former economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service. In the Phys.org coverage of the study, assistant professor of epidemiology and crop pathology at Penn State, Paul Esker, PhD, notes that this lack of farmer knowledge can lead to overuse of pesticides, which would increase the already considerable risks […]

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