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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


23
Oct

Bees Enrich Farmers More than Synthetic Inputs, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2019) Bees provide benefits to farmers that outweigh synthetic inputs, according to a large-scale field study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B earlier this month. Addressing the ongoing question of how much natural ecosystem services are worth, scientists analyzed the costs and benefits of biodiversity versus agrichemicals. Researchers found the value pollinators add to oilseed rape (OSR) production by increasing yields is higher than synthetic chemical inputs, which are costly to farmers and decrease beneficial insect abundance. The title of the study touts the impressive findings, “Bee pollination outperforms pesticides for oilseed crop production and profitability.” Researchers collected data over six years from 294 OSR fields in France with various levels of soil quality, fertilizer and pesticide applications, and pollinator abundance. They measured pollinator biodiversity with nets and traps at the field sites. Farmers offered data on yield, costs, and profits. Using linear models fitted to the large data set, the study analyzed combined effects of inputs on OSR yield and gross margin. Bee abundance was the only variable that had a positive effect on gross margins. Pollination is an ecosystem service that benefits one out of three agricultural crops. Studies from Ireland show […]

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26
Sep

Settlement Reached to Protect Habitat of Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2019) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be required to protect the habitat of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, per a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reached earlier this week. The bee was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2017, but USFWS has yet to designate the “critical habitat” for the bee where improved protections must be made to ensure its recovery. With the decline of both wild and managed pollinators throughout the U.S., action on this issue by federal agencies is sorely needed. According to NRDC, the settlement will require FWS to propose critical habitat by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021. Under ESA, FWS is required to designate the critical habitat of a listed species within one year of its listing if not included within its listing announcement. Thus, by drawing out this process, FWS is flouting this important action that will lead to real on-the-ground protections. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has violated federal law—again—by not designating critical habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee,” […]

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17
Sep

Study Finds Neonics Result in the Silent Demise of Songbirds

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2019) The poisonous farm fields migratory birds forage on during their journey reduce their weight, delay their travel, and ultimately jeopardize their survival, according to new research published in the journal Science.  Like their effects on pollinator populations, neonicotinoid insecticides generally are not killing migratory songbirds outright, but instead precipitating a cascade of sublethal impacts that reduces their fitness in the wild. As the authors told Environmental Health News, the study is a call not simply to ban neonics or one class of chemical, but to change the entire farming system toward more sustainable bird and bee-friendly practices. Using new technology, this study was not only able to dose wild-caught songbirds (white-crowned sparrows), but also track their migration route using automated telemetry. Apart from the control group that received no pesticide exposure, sparrows were treated at levels well below the median lethal dose (3% of the lethal dose in the ‘low’ exposure group and 10% within the ‘high’ exposure group), and permitted to continue on their migratory path. These are exposure amounts similar to a songbird accidentally ingesting a few treated seeds, according to the study. Within six hours, both the ‘low’ and ‘high’ exposure group […]

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03
Sep

Take Action: Help Save the Amazon Rainforest — #BoycottBrazilianFood

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2019) Brazil’s environment is under siege, as President Jair Bolsonaro has approved hundreds of new toxic pesticides this year and gutted watchdog environment agencies. Among the many dreadful results, news reports indicate that between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers found more than 500 million dead bees. As the Amazon burns, Indigenous activists are calling on the world to help, and Beyond Pesticides is responding by promoting a boycott started by a Swedish supermarket owner: #BoycottBrazilianFood. Pledge to #BoycottBrazilianFood, and ask major U.S. supermarkets to do the same. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink, and home both to the planet’s richest biodiversity and approximately 400 indigenous tribes. The country has 2300 pesticides registered for use; a total of 290 new toxic pesticides have been approved as of late August 2019. Swedish supermarket owner Johannes Cullberg started an international boycott in response to Brazil’s approval and use of hazardous pesticides in food production. #BoycottBrazilianFood began in June of 2019 when the total of newly registered pesticides stood at 197. Cullburg declared, “We need to stop (the president) Bolsonaro, he’s a maniac.” The boycott prompted a response from the Brazilian embassy, stating, “…the Embassy wishes to inform […]

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27
Aug

EPA Sued for Registering Known Bee-Killing Pesticide for Use on Bee-Attractive Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the subject to a new legal challenge from environmental groups after approving the use an insecticide shown to be highly toxic to bees and other pollinators.  The lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, aims to stop the use of sulfoxaflor on more than 200 million acres of crops. As EPA under the Trump administration has become increasingly emboldened to fight for industry priorities, concerned organizations and people are responding by supporting legal challenges and working to pass policies that truly protect wildlife and the environment. According to EPA’s ecological risk assessment for sulfoxaflor, the chemical is “very highly toxic” to bees. A study published last year in the journal Nature found significant concerns with the chemical’s ability to harm already declining pollinator populations. “There is an urgent need to pre-emptively evaluate the potential sub-lethal effects of sulfoximine-based pesticides on pollinators, because such effects are rarely detected by standard ecotoxicological assessments, but can have major impacts at larger ecological scales,” the authors wrote. EPA had already run in to legal problems associated with its registration […]

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23
Aug

EPA Inspector General Report Finds the Agency Falling Short in Oversight of State Pollinator Plans

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2019) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report criticizing EPA’s oversight of states’ Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). OIG conducted an audit, on which the report is based, to evaluate agency performance in overseeing MP3s, voluntary plans adopted at the state level with the goal to “reduce pesticide exposure to pollinators (generally, honey bees managed and contracted out to growers for pollination services) through timely communication and coordination among key stakeholders.” The report’s findings include the following: EPA has no means to evaluate the national impact of MP3s. The agency has not developed a strategy to use data from a planned fall 2019 survey (see more below on the AAPCO/SFIREG/EPA survey) to evaluate either the national impact of MP3s or the agency’s support of state MP3 implementation efforts. EPA focuses primarily on acute risks (those that occur during a single exposure to a specific pesticide), and gives insufficient attention to chronic exposures to pesticides and to native pollinator protection activities. The history of the MP3 program starts in 2014, when President Obama issued a memo establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force (PHTF), directing federal agencies […]

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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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30
Jul

Trump Administration Dealt Multiple Blows to Honey Bees this Month

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2019) Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a decision to register new uses for the bee-toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor. The decision closely followed a USDA announcement halting the Honey Bee Colonies Survey, combining blows to already suffering beekeepers. According to the nonprofit Bee Informed, this past winter tallied the most colonies lost in a decade—an estimated 37% between October 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019. “Proposing to register sulfoxaflor for use on bee-attractive crops, in the midst of an ongoing pollinator crisis, is the height of irresponsibility,” said Drew Toher, community resource and policy director for Beyond Pesticides in an interview for Bloomberg Environment. “When all of the available data points to significant risks to pollinators from use of this chemical we must face the facts: EPA is working towards the protection of pesticide industry, not the environment,” he said. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide whose mode of action is the same as neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These insecticides are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees […]

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12
Jul

USDA Shuts Down Data Collection on Honey Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced, on Saturday, July 6 that it would suspend indefinitely the data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey and report. The move came, tellingly, less than three weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again approved “emergency” uses of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a bee-killing compound similar to the notorious neonicotinoids, insecticides that contribute significantly to the phenomena of pollinator collapse (“colony collapse disorder”) and massive insect loss (“insect apocalypse”) that are underway worldwide. Sulfoxaflor is one of the many toxic pesticides that threaten honey bees, which are critical pollinators responsible for one-third of the food we humans consume. Permitting its use and then ceasing to collect and report data on the status of honey bees that are likely to be impacted is not only a recipe for kneecapping the study of bee decline and imperiling the food supply, but also, another example of the corruption for which this administration is infamous. As The Huffington Post reported, “Critics say the USDA’s move is the latest evidence of the Trump administration’s war on science, and its goal of suppressing information about serious environmental harms increasing under Donald Trump’s presidency.” Union […]

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27
Jun

Scientists Say, “We know enough to act now,” on Perilous Global Insect Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2019) A review of scientific literature urges for swift societal action on the collapse of insect populations worldwide, according to authors of a study. The authors point out that while there is a need for more research on the extent of the phenomenon as well as causal factors, there is currently sufficient evidence to spur and inform transformational policy in response to a definite worldwide crisis. The paper, Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now, provides a run-down of actions to take—from national policy to apartment balconies. Recent reports name alarming drops in insect diversity and abundance, prompting the ominous label of “insect apocalypse.” Almost half of all insect species are rapidly declining, and a third are being threatened with extinction. The authors state, “Although there has been some criticism of specific studies, the overall trend is clear and the broad geographic reach is perhaps the most dire feature of the current crisis, as assessments from all continents except Antarctica reveal declines.” The main culprits of insect demise are habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change. The authors note that it is less critical, at this juncture, to focus on […]

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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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24
Jun

Ask Congress to Stop EPA Actions that Threaten Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2019) During “Pollinator Week,” last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency betrayed its responsibility to protect the environment and approved “emergency” uses of sulfoxaflor, a bee-toxic insecticide, in 11 states 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 into the plant tissues, 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. Ask Your Elected Members of Congress to Tell EPA that Its Actions Are Unacceptable and Must Be Reversed 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. However, 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 […]

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21
Jun

Get Active in Your Community to Protect Declining Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2019) As Pollinator Week 2019 comes to a close, Beyond Pesticides is encouraging individuals to take steps in their backyard and community to Bee Protective of pollinator populations. The situation for pollinators and the insect word is dire, but there are a range of activities that can be taken in both the short and long term to shore up populations where you live. If you’re working towards positive change on pollinators, or simply want to know more about how to get involved, join the Pollinator Week #ProtectPollinators twitter chat today at 12 noon ET. ManageSafe Pest problems are a part of everyday life. But the first step in addressing them should never be reaching for a hazardous pesticide. To protect you and your family from pests while also protecting pollinators visit Beyond Pesticides Managesafe website.  Start by selecting the location of your pest problem – whether indoors or out, and click through to choose the pest in question. If the pest problem you’re dealing with isn’t listed there, reach out to Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] for one on one assistance. One of the biggest impacts we can make for the health of pollinators is to forgo […]

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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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18
Jun

Industrial Agriculture Practices Contribute to the Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2019) As the New York Times wrote in November 2018, “The Insect Apocalypse is Here.” But can we reverse it? Pollinator Week this year is overshadowed by a greater, all-encompassing crisis that spans the entire insect world. Scientists and researchers have identified three broad contributors to the crisis: pesticide use, habitat destruction, and climate change. It is evident that multi-national agrichemical industries, companies like Bayer Monsanto, DowDupont, Syngenta, and the umbrella organization Croplife, that pervade our food system share much of the blame. But through public pressure and consumer choice, we can shift towards alternative products and practices, improve biodiversity, and begin to repair the damage done by industrial agriculture. Pesticide Use Industrial agricultural often places pesticide use as the first tool in the toolbox of possible fixes to pest problems. This leads to a range of deleterious impacts both up and down the food chain, as both prey and predator succumb to the effects of broad spectrum pesticides. Although it makes common sense that pesticides kill off more than their target insect, the scale of the problem was not realized until a study was published in PLOS One by German researchers. It found, after 27 […]

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17
Jun

Be a Hero for Pollinators: Ask Your U.S. Rep to Co-Sponsor the Saving America’s Pollinators Act

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2019) During Pollinator Week, starting June 17, ask your elected representative in Congress to support pollinators by co-sponsoring Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA). If they are already a cosponsor, use the occasion to thank them for their leadership on this critical issue. With the ongoing saga that is the pollinator crisis, we know who the villains of this story are: Bayer, Syngenta, Croplife America, and other multi-national companies that produce, promote, and protect pollinator-toxic pesticides. But where are the heroes?  Pollinator Week should be a week-long celebration of pollinators and the benefits they provide for people and the environment. Unfortunately, we must point out that the wrongdoers are running the show, and our fluttering friends are disappearing. Chemical corporations use this week to greenwash their products by sponsoring outreach events that completely ignore their role in unprecedented pollinator declines. Don’t be fooled by their disguise. We know that real solutions won’t come from a masked crusader. It won’t be a singular superhero that saves the day. In order to fight the fiendish forces behind the global insect apocalypse, we need a mass mobilization of everyday heroes. Heroes like you can inspire good in your elected officials. Ask your […]

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14
Jun

Gear Up for Actions to Protect Pollinators during Pollinator Week, June 17 – 22

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2019) Next week, June 17–22, marks Pollinator Week 2019, a celebration of the beauty and benefits these critical species provide, but also a call to action to protect pollinators and the natural world. Since United States Senate declared the first Pollinator Week in 2007, nearly every week since there has been new research published linking pesticides to pollinator declines. Yet the companies that produce pollinator-toxic pesticides, like Bayer and Syngenta, make use of this week to excuse their products from any culpability. Instead, they sponsor events and posters, discussing every threat to bees except those posed by the pesticides that make up their bottom line. They are the villains in this story, but there is no superhero in line to save bees, butterflies, birds, and bats.  That’s why it’s up to you, everyday heroes that support protecting pollinators, to alert the public, and inspire good in elected officials. We’ve outlined a week of actions aimed at educating and inspiring action to protect pollinators. Monday Support the New Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA), HR1337. SAPA represents the best opportunity to enact meaningful changes at the federal level that will protect pollinators in the long term. This bill, […]

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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.Velázquez. “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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30
May

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service To Consider Monarch Butterfly Endangered Status, Amid Staggering Declines and Threat of Legal Action

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2019) Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed to a 2020 deadline for reaching a decision on protection status for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. This agreement comes nearly five years after the filing of a petition by conservationists with the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety led to the launch of an ongoing status review in 2014. While FWS deliberates, monarch butterflies continue their staggering, decades-long population decline, perhaps for the last of their decades. In the 1990s, the eastern monarch population numbered nearly one billion butterflies, and the western population numbered more than 1.2 million. Last year’s winter counts recorded around 93 million eastern monarchs and fewer than 200,000 western monarchs. That loss is “so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement to Live Science. Recent studies project that if current trends continue, both eastern and western monarch populations face migratory collapse within the next 20 years. FWS is no stranger to the threats facing monarch […]

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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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30
Apr

Study Findings on Pollinator Declines: Neonics Increase Honey Bee Vulnerability to Mites

(Beyond Pesticides, April, 30, 2019) According to the latest blog post from pesticide industry propagandist Henry I Miller, the pollinator crisis either a) is not occurring; b) is not a problem; or, c) caused by varroa mites, pathogens, and habitat loss. Notwithstanding outlandish assertions that there is no pollinator crisis, new research is further undermining the long-held industry claim that it is mites and disease alone, and not pesticides that are harming pollinator populations. Published in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of Canadian scientists, this research finds that realistic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides impairs honey bees ability to groom mites off of their bodies and increases infection with a disease known as deformed wing virus (DWV). “When bee colonies began to collapse years ago, it became clear there wasn’t just one factor involved, so we were interested in whether there was an interaction between two of the main stressors that affect bees: varroa mites and a neurotoxic insecticide, clothianidin,” said Nuria Morfin Ramirez, PhD, at the University of Guelph, Canada. Dr. Ramirez and her team exposed honey bees to a range of different concentrations (low, medium, high) of the neonicotinoid clothianidin, with some bees receiving combined stressors of […]

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