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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


16
Jul

Adding to Similar Findings, Organophosphate Insecticide Linked to Depression and Suicide, Farm to Home

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2024) Yet another study in the August 2024 journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety has found that exposure to organophosphorus pesticides (OPPs) is correlated with increased suicidal thoughts in some people. This study is just the latest in a long line of studies from around the world that have linked pesticide exposure to mental health conditions, including sleep disorders, depression, and suicidal ideation (SI). As the rate of suicide increased by 30% between 2000 and 2020, there is an urgent public health need to investigate and address all potential contributing factors. A 2019 study, covered in Daily News, found that teens and adolescents living in agricultural areas and exposed to organophosphate (OP) insecticides are at higher risk of depression, In July and January this year, other studies link farmer psychiatric episodes to pesticide exposure, adding to the body of science. Exposure to household pesticides is also linked to depression in a 2020 study.   Study and Methodology  The study entitled “Association between exposure to organophosphorus pesticide and suicidal ideation among U.S. adults: A population-based study,” analyzes information on the mental and physical health of over 5,000 individuals aged 20 and up in the United States. The study aims […]

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11
Jul

Dozens of Pesticide Residues, Including Illegal Compounds, Found through BeeNet Project

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2024) Can the health of pollinator hives serve as a nature-based indicator for pesticide residue drift? Researchers in a study published in Science of the Total Environment in June find this to be the case. Through the BeeNet Project, led by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forestry (MAFSF), researchers detected the presence of 63 different pesticide residues in hives across northern Italy. Of these residues, 15 are not approved for use under European Union (EU) law. Environmental advocates observe the mounting scientific literature on pollinator decline, in part due to the inadequate regulation of toxic petrochemical-based pesticides, as a call to action to push forward land management, agricultural, and climate policy that aligns with organic principles centering on soil health, biodiversity, public health, worker protections, and economic security. Methodology The study is cowritten by a cohort of ten researchers working in the Research Center for Agriculture and Environment in Bologna, Italy—a research institution within the Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis (CREA) at MAFSF. Supported by the BeeNet Project (funded by Italian National Fund), BeeNet is a national monitoring project that tracks the health of honey bee and wild bee populations […]

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10
Jul

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Contribute to Honey Bee Vulnerability to Parasitic Varroa Mites

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2024) An article last month in Entomology Today, a publication of the Entomological Society of America, highlights the important findings of a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Insect Science. While there has been debate on whether neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides or Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) are more detrimental to the survival of bees, evidence suggests that neonicotinoids are not only harmful individually but can increase vulnerability to parasitism from mites in western honey bees (Apis mellifera). The Entomology Today article reads: “Some researchers and organizations have pointed to neonics as directly harming bees. Others have pointed to other issues, like Varroa mite infestation, as more hazardous to honey bee populations.” There is scientific evidence supporting each claim, as both cause stress to bee species that can lead to population decline. The study in the Journal of Science, however, is “the first experimental field demonstration of how neonicotinoid exposure can increase V. destructor populations in honey bees and also demonstrates that colony genetic diversity cannot mitigate the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides.”  As the article states, “The researchers were not looking for impacts on Varroa mites at first. Instead, they were looking to understand how […]

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28
Jun

Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides Again Identified as an Important Factor in Butterfly Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2024) Most people don’t like bugs, but the fact is that insects form the foundation of human flourishing, both for their ecosystems services, like pollination of food crops, and for their aesthetic joys. But insect populations globally are declining two to four percent a year, with total losses over 20 years of 30-50 percent, according to a new study of the interacting effects of pesticides, climate, and land use changes on insects’ status in the Midwest. Teasing out the relative influence of these stressors has been a major obstacle in determining the causes of the declines and ways to mitigate them. The icon of insect beauty in the U.S. is the monarch butterfly, whose vibrant coloring, elegant form, and spectacular migrations inspire everyone. Beyond Pesticides has covered the distressing decline of these creatures, most recently in the June 24 Daily News. Monarchs prefer milkweed plants, but also visit many other flowers. Milkweed often grows along the margins of fields, so monarchs are widely exposed to pesticides and habitat disturbances associated with agriculture. The new study was published in PLoS One by a team of scientists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Michigan State University, […]

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24
Jun

Pollinator Week Ends; Pollinator Decline and Biodiversity Collapse Continue with Inadequate Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2024) National Pollinator Week ended last week, but the crisis associated with pollinator decline and biodiversity collapse continues. If there were not enough data to prove that regulators are woefully behind the curve in protecting pollinators, yet another study was published during Pollinator Week that reminded regulators, elected officials, farmers, gardeners, all eaters, and lovers of nature that federal, state, and local environmental laws in place have been an abject and unconscionable failure in protecting the biodiversity that supports all life. The study, “Insecticides, more than herbicides, land use, and climate, are associated with declines in butterfly species richness and abundance in the American Midwest,” published in PLOS ONE, cries out as a further warning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “mitigation measures,” which tinker with limited pesticide restrictions, represent a catastrophic disregard for the scientifically documented facts, according to environmental advocates. Daily News will cover this study in more detail in a later piece, however, the abstract of the journal piece is worth reprinting here in reflecting on Pollinator Week: “Mounting evidence shows overall insect abundances are in decline globally. Habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides have all been implicated, but their relative effects […]

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21
Jun

Literature Review Analyzes Pesticide Sensitivity in Bee Species on a Molecular Level

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2024) A recent review of the scientific literature, published in Science of The Total Environment, analyzes multiple species of bees on a molecular level to better understand the poisoning mechanisms that could, as the authors see it, inform chemical risk assessments with more precision. The mechanisms “implicated in the tolerance of bees to specific pesticides, and thus as determinants of insecticide sensitivity, … include metabolic detoxification, insecticide target proteins, the insect cuticle and bee gut microbiota,” the authors write. This review references more than 90 studies performed over the last 30+ years, with most being published in the last 5-10 years, as the understanding and importance of molecular determinants of bee sensitivity has emerged. Pollinators, such as bees, provide crucial ecosystem services by pollinating both wild plants and essential crops. The exposure these insects are subjected to threatens their existence, which occurs through pesticide contamination that can lead to impacts on growth and development or even colony collapse.    “While bees have only been exposed to human-made pesticides over the recent past (last 80 years) they have co-evolved with plants and fungi which produce a range of xenobiotics, including plant allelochemicals and mycotoxins,” the authors state. […]

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17
Jun

National Pollinator Week Starts Today with Opportunities for Action Every Day of the Week (June 17-23)

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2024) Every year, Beyond Pesticides announces National Pollinator Week—this year beginning today, June 17—to remind eaters of food, gardeners, farmers, communities (including park districts to school districts), civic organizations, responsible corporations, policy makers, and legislators that there are actions that can be taken that are transformative. All the opportunities for action to protect pollinators, and the ecosystems that are critical to their survival, can collectively be transformational in eliminating toxic pesticides that are major contributors to the collapse of biodiversity. This is why Beyond Pesticides starts most discussions and strategic actions for meaningful pollinator and biodiversity protection with the transition to practicing and supporting organic. In launching National Pollinator Week, Beyond Pesticides makes suggestions for individual actions to increase efforts to think and act holistically to protect the environment that supports pollinators. The impact that people have starts with grocery store purchases and the management of gardens, parks, playing fields, and pubic lands. The introduction of pesticides into our food supply and our managed lands has contributed to a downward spiral that is unsustainable. The good news is that it is now proven that we do not need toxic pesticides to grow food productively and profitably […]

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14
Jun

Report Finds Industry Influences Academic Society of Entomologists, Squelches Bee-Toxic Pesticide Science

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2024) The influence of the chemical industry over public policy and regulation, especially in agriculture, is glaringly obvious and has little popular support, yet no one can seem to do anything about it. Numerous analyses have detailed the ways this influence is applied—through lobbying and political donations including dark money; industry experts named to regulatory agency scientific advisory boards; and the massive public relations machines that create and sustain public uncertainty using the tobacco industry playbook revealed by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt. A more insidious tendril of industry influence is explained in U.S. Right to Know’s (USRTK) report, released this month, on pesticide manufacturers’ infiltration of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The report, “Anatomy of a science meeting: How controversial pesticide research all but vanished from a major conference,” examines the ESA’s 2023 annual meeting—its program, sponsorships, presentations, panelists, poster sessions, meet-and-greets, budget, revenue sources, and other aspects of the event. What is revealed is a systematic and comprehensive industry presence throughout the society and its meeting. A direct consequence is the near-elimination of any scientific presentations addressing the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on insects, particularly bees. […]

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13
Jun

Study Confirms Serious Flaws in EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessments, Threatening Bees and Other Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2024) A study published in Conservation Letters, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, exposes critical shortcomings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessment (ERA) process for modeling the risks that pesticides pose to bees and other pollinators. For the study, “Risk assessments underestimate threat of pesticides to wild bees,” researchers conducted a meta-analysis of toxicity data in EPA’s ECOTOX knowledgebase (ECOTOX), an EPA-hosted, publicly available resource with information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to certain aquatic and terrestrial species. The meta-analysis found that the agency’s approach, which relies heavily on honey bee data from controlled laboratory studies, drastically underestimates the real-world threats from neonicotinoid insecticides (and likely other pesticides) to native bees and other pollinators. The study “challenges the reliability of surrogate species as predictors when extrapolating pesticide toxicity data to wild pollinators and recommends solutions to address the (a)biotic interactions occurring in nature that make such extrapolations unreliable in the ERA process.” Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman remarked, “EPA’s ecological risk assessment process is fundamentally flawed and puts thousands of bee species at risk of pesticide-caused population declines and extinctions.” Mr. Feldman continued, “This underscores the urgent […]

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30
May

House Farm Bill Moves Out of Agriculture Committee Undermining Health, Ecosystems, and Democracy, Advocates Say

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2024) The House Agriculture Committee voted 33-21 on May 23 to move the Farm, Food, and National Security Act out of committee after a contentious markup and onslaught of amendments that undermine water health, soil health, and local democratic authority to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide exposure. One of nearly sixty amendments introduced in the markup last week included the continuation of a decade-long attack on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit via Clean Water Act (CWA) for pesticide discharge. What was most illuminating however was not the passage of the bill itself, but Big Agriculture’s raucous approval. Advocates see pesticide industry and its allies’ support for what it is—the reliance on petrochemical-based pesticides leading to economic instability, ecosystem collapse, and the degradation of democratic institutions. With support for entrenched dependency on petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, the committee’s bill requires taxpayers to pay through the government’s crop insurance program for escalating losses caused by chemical-intensive farming practices, contributing to yield losses that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says are “natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture [e.g., floods], hail, wind, frost, insects, and disease. . .” However, the frequency of these […]

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24
May

Study Finds Chemical Industry’s “Bee-Safe” Claim for Its Pesticides To Be False

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2024) Even allegedly “low-toxicity” pesticides such as flupyradifurone (insecticide), azoxystrobin, and difenoconazole (fungicides) pose adverse health effects to solitary ground-nesting squash bees (Xenoglossa pruinose), according to a study published in Biological Sciences. Fungicide exposure led to less pollen collected per flower, while exposure to flupyradifurone (FPF) produced larger offspring (which make it more challenging for them to fly). Simultaneous exposure to the three pesticides “induced hyperactivity in female squash bees relative to both the control and single pesticide exposure, and reduced the number of emerging offspring per nest compared to individual pesticide treatments.” With United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations-sponsored World Bee Day earlier this week, now more than ever advocates are calling for the elimination of toxic insecticide classes, such as neonicotinoids and butanolides, and their wholesale replacement with organic land management principles. This study was written by Sabrina Rondeau, PhD, postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, and Nigel E. Raine, PhD, professor at University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Science. Published on March 20, 2024, the researchers delve into the individual and co-exposure impacts of two fungicides and one insecticide, which is important, given the documented synergistic effects […]

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24
Apr

EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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12
Apr

Natural Grocers Supports Organic Communities and Beyond Pesticides’ Parks for a Sustainable Future—Ladybug Love Pledge

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2024) In honor of Earth Month, Natural Grocers® is partnering with Beyond Pesticides for its seventh annual Ladybug LoveSM campaign. Natural Grocers, a longtime leader of the organic movement through national advocacy efforts and rigorous product standards, encourages its communities to pledge to protect beneficial insects and further Beyond Pesticides’ critical mission of converting local parks and playing fields to organic landscape management practices.   Natural Grocers’ annual Earth Month fundraising efforts benefit the nonprofit organization, Beyond Pesticides and its Parks for a Sustainable Future program. Cleaner air, water, and land make for a healthier food supply – a principle Natural Grocers has championed since 1955. Click here to see the campaign from last year. April shoppers at Natural Grocers’ 168 stores are also invited to donate to Beyond Pesticides at checkout. Ladybug Love also features in-store promotions! LADYBUG LOVE & BEYOND PESTICIDES Natural Grocers’ Ladybug Love campaign aims to bring awareness to the precious insects that play a crucial role in the stability of our food supply and regenerative farming. The annual Earth Month fundraising efforts benefit Beyond Pesticides and its Parks for a Sustainable Future program, designed to assist communities in transitioning away from pesticide use at local parks […]

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20
Mar

Mexico Ban on Genetically Engineered Corn Imports Spurs Challenge from U.S. and Canada under Trade Agreement

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2024) A report by CBAN unpacks the ecosystem and wildlife health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) corn in the context of Mexico’s 2023 decision to stop its importation into the country. The phase out of genetically modified (GM) corn imports into Mexico was immediately challenged by the U.S. and Canadian governments as a trade violation under the 2020 U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the primary vehicle for North American trade policy. In August 2023, the U.S. Trade Representative set up a dispute settlement panel under USMCA to stop Mexico from going forward with its ban. There has been no public update from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as of this writing. The CBAN report highlights the scientific rationale underpinning Mexico’s decision to “safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health” with this ban. In 2020, Mexico announced a four-year phase-out of the weed killer glyphosate, which along with other petrochemical herbicides is integral to GM corn production. When Mexico’s Minister of the Environment announced the phase-out, he said it is part of an effort to transform the country’s food system […]

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28
Feb

Attack on Vulnerable Species Pilot Project: Opportunities to Engage with EPA on Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting on hold its Vulnerable Species Project (VSP) after vociferous comments from the petrochemical pesticide industry to instead, “create a narrow, tailored policy rather than a sweeping, burdensome one,” according to a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Upon heavy pushback from the petrochemical pesticide industry and agribusiness, EPA is hosting a variety of workshops and openings for the public to provide feedback not just on VSP, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan the Biden Administration originally introduced in 2021 in its entirety. Advocates are calling for the strengthening of pesticide regulation given the impending decisions that may shape the fate of ESA-FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) compliance for years to come. As EPA continues through its pesticide registration program to advance continued dependency on pesticides through its interpretation of FIFRA, despite the availability of nontoxic alternatives, endangered species extinction and biodiversity collapse has never been a high priority. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, Civil Eats has reported that the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA officials stated, “Even if EPA completed […]

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25
Jan

Bill to Protect Birds and Bees in New York Raises Political Challenges to Addressing Ecosystem Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2024) Legislative efforts to curtail some life-threatening pesticides associated with birds and bees (and other pollinators) decline were weakened in New York State at the end of December 2023 as the governor negotiated and stripped elements of a bill relating to agriculture that had passed the legislature—again illustrating the grip of the agrichemical industry on public policy intended to begin to address the crisis in ecosystem collapse. (See “Study Cites Insect Extinction and Ecological Collapse.”) In passing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York joined New Jersey, Nevada, and Maine in banning most nonagricultural uses of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, but, in last-minute changes to avoid the governor’s veto, failed to phase out corn, soybean, and wheat seeds coated with these chemicals. [Pointing to an exemption in federal law that has been challenged by advocates, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate treated or coated seeds as pesticides despite their toxic pesticidal properties.] In New York State, the governor can, in consultation with the leadership of the legislative branch, negotiate language changes (called Chapter Amendments) in legislature-passed legislation (originally enacted) before deciding to sign it into law or can simply choose to veto the legislation. […]

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09
Jan

Field Study of Bumble Bees Finds Exposure to Chemical Mixtures, High Hazard, Flawed Regulation

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2024) A “landscape-level” study finds that typical risk assessment studies used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European regulators fail to “safeguard bees and other pollinators that support agricultural production and wild plant pollination.” The study, published in Nature (November 2023), evaluates the health of bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) as a sentinel species placed in 106 agricultural landscapes across Europe. The authors’ conclusions challenge “the current assumption of pesticide regulation—that chemicals that individually pass laboratory tests and semifield trials are considered environmentally benign”—calling into question EPA’s persistent failure to adequately regulate mixtures of chemicals to which organisms are exposed in the real world. This study adds to the body of science on pesticide mixtures adversely affecting bee and pollinator health. See here, here, and here. The failure to capture real-world exposure to pesticide mixtures in its regulatory assessments extends to EPA’s systemic failure to evaluate a range of serious adverse impacts, as noted by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. And, aquatic environments also have documented mixtures of pesticides, with the U.S. Geological Survey finding 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. “We can take no comfort […]

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12
Dec

Scientific Literature Review Again Identifies Pesticide Disruption of Bee Gut Microbiota

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2023) A review published in Nature Reviews Microbiology finds pesticides can disrupt honeybee (Apis mellifera) microbiota (bacteria) in their gut, altering the immune system, metabolism, behavior, and development. Many studies emphasize chemical-driven agricultural systems dependent upon pollinators and products that harm or kill off these sensitive species. Previous studies have linked adverse impacts to bee microbiome to pesticide exposure. Toxic (manufactured poison) pesticides readily contaminate the ecosystem with residues pervasive in food and water commodities. In addition to this study, the scientific literature commonly associates pesticides with human, biotic, and ecosystem harm, as a doubling of toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators, has been recorded since 2004.  Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Many agricultural and nonagricultural plant species will decline or cease to exist without pollinators. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the strength of the agricultural sector. As the science shows, pesticides are one of the most significant stressors for pollinators. Additionally, pesticides have a devastating impact on bees and other pollinators and the larger context of what has been called by scientists as the “insect apocalypse.” In a world where habitat loss and fragmentation show no sign […]

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01
Nov

NFL Players Association Calls for Stadiums to End Synthetic Turf Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2023) As communities consider maintenance and renovation of their playing fields, it is not uncommon for synthetic (or artificial) turf to come up as an alternative to natural grass. Promoters of synthetic turf argue that it provides a solution to climate change, reduces water use and maintenance costs, and allows for year-round play. But is this true? Is synthetic turf an environmentally responsible alternative to its organic grass counterpart? An established and growing body of scientific evidence is demonstrating environmental and health risks with synthetic turf. In addition, there is growing concern for the safety of those playing on artificial grass, which has led to a call from the National Football League’s (NFL) Players Association to utilize natural grass on all 30 NFL stadiums after New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in September and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s mid-game ankle injury. Synthetic turf playing fields are reliant on polluting plastic (can contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances-PFAS) and toxic pesticides for managing bacteria, mold and fungus, create contaminated water runoff, and cover over the natural environment, which is critical to preserving health and biodiversity, and averting climate disasters. Artificial […]

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16
Oct

EPA Rejects Petition Seeking Review of Complete Ingredients in Pesticide Products

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2023) After six years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally responded to a citizen petition requesting that the agency evaluate complete formulations of pesticide products, not just the ingredients the manufacturer claims attack the target pest (so-called “active” ingredients). EPA’s response: No. Nowhere in EPA’s denial of the need for a more robust toxicological analysis is the problem more evident than in its refusal to require analyses of the so-called “inert ingredients” or “adjuvants” included in various formulations of pesticide products. The citizen petition [see more background] was followed by a lawsuit for the same purpose in 2022. Inerts and formulants are substances that enhance the distribution or adhesion of the active ingredient; adjuvants enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredient. These terms suggest that those chemicals have no effect on anything in the area where the pesticide is applied—a wildly inaccurate implication. At least as early as 1987, EPA had recognized that some inerts and adjuvants were “of toxicological concern,” yet it still requires very few toxicological tests of whole-formula pesticides or their purportedly inactive components. EPA responded to the petition as follows: “[T]he Agency appropriately assesses, as part of its review, the impacts to […]

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11
Oct

Rachel Carson Conservation Park Faces Controversy Over Toxic Herbicide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2023) Rachel Carson Conservation Park, a 650-acre conservation area in Montgomery County, Maryland, named in honor of the renowned scientist and author Rachel Carson, is now at the center of a controversy surrounding the use of toxic herbicides. Ms. Carson played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the harmful ecosystem and human health effects of pesticides that led to the banning of DDT. Environmentalists and concerned citizens have raised alarm over the recent spraying of “invasive weeds” with Garlon 3A, a powerful herbicide, within the park’s boundaries. Concern about pesticide use in Montgomery County is complicated by competing jurisdictions and restrictions within the county, and highlights the stark difference between nontoxic organic practices and pesticide-dependent Integrated Pest Management. (See more below on Montgomery County land management policy for local parks.) According to the Montgomery County website: “Montgomery County Parks [Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission or M-NCPPC] are a State agency. M-NCPPC operates under an integrated pest management plan (IPM). Montgomery Parks manages all playgrounds, community gardens and common lawn areas within local parks without the use of pesticides. In 2016, Montgomery Parks designated ten pesticide-free parks. In September 2019, the program expanded to 45 […]

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02
Oct

Confronting Dramatic Biodiversity Loss on 50th Anniversary of Endangered Species Act

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2023) On the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), statements out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raise concerns about the agency’s ability to meet the challenge of evaluating pesticides for their adverse impact on threatened and endangered species. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA officials stated, “Even if EPA completed this work for all of the pesticides that are currently subject to court decisions and/or ongoing litigation, that work would take until the 2040s, and even then, would represent only 5 percent of EPA’s ESA obligations.”   As part of a “whole of government” approach, EPA must redirect its pesticide program to protecting all species and their habitats.   The speed and depth of biodiversity loss has reached crisis proportions. A 1,500-page report in 2019 by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES )—Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers, the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization, makes the following finding: “Since 1970, trends in agricultural production, fish harvest, […]

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28
Sep

Beyond Pesticides Celebrates the 50th Birthday of the Endangered Species Act

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2023) As the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), there is a growing recognition that the planet faces an existential biodiversity crisis, with a rising number of species on the brink of extinction. In a collective effort to address threats to global biodiversity (i.e. diversity of all life), a coalition of environmental organizations including Beyond Pesticides, are sending an urgent letter to President Joe Biden. This letter, titled “Meeting the Challenges of the Biodiversity and Extinction Crisis Over the Next 50 Years,” calls for bold and comprehensive action to preserve our planet’s natural heritage for future generations. The ESA is celebrated as one of the most effective conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of listed species. Over the past five decades, the ESA has played a pivotal role in preventing these extinctions by safeguarding the most critically endangered species within biological communities. However, this concentration on highly threatened species often results in temporary solutions that may not comprehensively address the broader issue of biodiversity loss. The ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. While it is crucial […]

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