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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


17
Jan

Interior Department Sued Over Failure to Protect Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2019) Although the rusty patched bumblebee was placed on the endangered species list in 2017, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place legally required safeguards for the species. As a result, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing the Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) for failing to designate locations where additional protections could help restore the endangered bumblebee’s population. Advocates say DOI’s failure to comply with requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is consistent with the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for ongoing pollinator declines and environmental protections in general. Under ESA, DOI is required to determine “critical habitat” that contains physical and biological requirements a listed species needs in order to recover. That area must be designated within one year of placing a species on the endangered list, using best available scientific data. But the Trump Administration’s DOI, under both former Director Ryan Zinke and Acting Director David Bernhardt, has failed to do so, in violation of ESA. NRDC’s legal director Rebecca Riley notes that this lack of follow-through “leaves this highly endangered bee’s habitat at risk of destruction and decreases the species’ chance for survival.” The rusty patched bumblebee has […]

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16
Jan

Western Monarchs Experience Catastrophic Declines Over the Last Year

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

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10
Jan

Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production, Leading to Life-Threatening Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2019) The Trump administration is opening the floodgates to allow widespread use of antibiotics in citrus (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines) production, expanding on an emergency use decision it made in 2017. The public has an opportunity to comment on the widespread use of streptomycin by January 19, 2019. You can comment on the federal government’s public comment page (regulations.gov) by leaving a comment opposing any additional use of antibiotics in food production during a national and international crisis of deadly disease resistance to antibiotics. You can copy Beyond Pesticides’ prepared comment below and add your own concerns. Strikingly, the decision allows for up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year, and 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as a pesticide in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. These uses were permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017, allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), […]

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09
Jan

Regulations to Protect Bees Fall Short, Scientists Call for More Attention to Native Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2019) It is news to approximately no one that pollinators are in trouble worldwide. A series of papers by biologists at the University of Guelph, Ontario, posits that pesticide regulations aimed at protection of honey bees fall far short of the critical task of protecting the multitude of bee species that are important pollinators of human food crops. These recent papers arose from 2017 workshops that involved 40 bee researchers from various universities, and representatives from Canadian, U.S., and European regulatory agencies, and from the agrochemical industry. Beset by shrinking habitat, pathogens, and toxic chemical exposures, bee pollinator populations are at great risk, even as “‘our dependency on insect-pollinated crops is increasing and will continue to do so as the global population rises,’ said [Professor Nigel] Raine, [PhD], [a] co-author of all three papers recently published in the journal Environmental Entomology. . . . Protecting wild pollinators is more important now than ever before. Honeybees alone simply cannot deliver the crop pollination services we need.” There are, in fact, more than 20,000 bee species worldwide, and 3,500–5,000 bee species in North America alone. Although regulators across many countries have focused narrowly on assessing the risk of pesticides to honey bees, many […]

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04
Jan

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

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

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03
Jan

Watchdog Groups Urge Maryland to Better Enforce State’s Pollinator Protection Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2019) Bee-toxic pesticides banned for consumer use by the state of Maryland are still being sold in hardware and garden stores, according to reports from beekeeper and consumer watchdog groups. In 2016, Maryland passed the Pollinator Protection Act, which limited the use of neonicotinoids, insecticides implicated in the global decline of pollinator populations, to only certified applicators. According to spot checks by the Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) and the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association (CMBA), state enforcement agencies still have a ways to go to ensure retailers are complying with the law. From May to October 2018, six volunteers visited 30 Maryland stores along the Baltimore-Washington corridor to see whether they are complying with the law by removing bee-toxic neonicotinoids from retail consumer sale. Eleven of the 30 stores were not in compliance, ranging from local home and garden stores to national big-box chains. “I’ve taken bottles off the shelf and taken them up to an employee or a manager, and said, ‘You really need to stop selling this stuff — it’s illegal,’” said Steve McDaniel, a master beekeeper in Carroll County to the Bay Journal. The state, for its part, indicates that staffing problems at […]

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21
Dec

Blackberry Leaves Decompose to Thwart Mosquito Breeding

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2019) A study at the University of Maine (UMaine) finds that adding blackberry leaf litter in stormwater catch basins creates an “ecological trap,” enticing mosquito females to lay eggs in sites unsuitable for larvae survival. Employing this new and incredibly viable “attract-and-kill’ tool for mosquito control shows potential for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes that may carry insect-borne diseases, especially in urban environments. Stormwater catch basins regularly accumulate leaf litter, which serve as habitat for the mosquito species Culex pipiens (Cx. Pipiens) that may carry West Nile virus. Previous University of Maine research discovered decomposing leaf litter from Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) produces chemical compounds that attracts and stimulates Cx. Pipiens female to oviposit, or lay eggs. Investigating the attractiveness and lethality of varying catch basin conditions to mosquitoes, researchers hypothesized that blackberry leaf litter could be shown to be lethal to developing mosquito larvae, and, therefore, act as a natural ecological trap for Cx. Pipiens. Five varying treatments were applied to a total 50 catch basins. Treatments included (1) all debris dredged weekly throughout the duration of the study, (2) no change to debris naturally occurring in catch basins, (3) […]

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14
Dec

Pollinator Disappearance Documented in Vermont, Confirming Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2018) The richness, diversity, and abundance of wild bumblebees in Vermont has plummeted over the last century, according to an analysis from researchers at the University of Vermont and Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). This research adds fresh evidence to the growing realization that mankind is witnessing and contributing to, as the New York Times recently labeled, a worldwide insect apocalypse. “We’re losing bumblebees even before we fully understand their benefits to our economy and well-being, or how they fit into ecosystems,” said Kent McFarland, study coauthor and conservation biologist at VCE in a press release. Researchers conducted surveys with the help of 53 trained citizen scientists. Alongside the researchers, these individuals surveyed bumblebee populations through a combination of photos of wild bees and net collections. In total, over 81% of the state’s municipalities were included in the survey, representing all of Vermont pollinator’s biophysical regions. These data, consisting of over 10,000 bee encounters, were then compared to a database of almost 2,000 historical public and private insect collections amassed by researchers. With the first records beginning at 1915, scientists are able to compose a century-long assessment of pollinator populations in Vermont. “These collections are priceless,” […]

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03
Dec

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

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

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30
Nov

Multiple Pesticide Residues in Soil Raise Alarm

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2018) A study published this month in Science of the Total Environment reveals numerous pesticide residues persisting in soil, harming the viability of agricultural lands and increasing risk of off-site contamination. Funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission, researchers from the European Diverfarming project at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands suggest nations urgently reevaluate conventional land use and inputs including water, energy, fertilizers, machinery and pesticides. Researchers decrying the lack of soil protection policies endeavored to determine which pesticides had the highest soil persistence and toxicity to non-target species. Three hundred seventeen surface soil samples were analyzed from 11 European countries. Selected countries were those with the largest amounts of active agricultural land, characterizing six distinct cropping systems. Sampled soils purposefully represented different soil properties and were taken from crops with the highest pesticide use per hectare. Samples were then analyzed for the concentration of 76 pesticide residues. These 76 pesticides were selected as being most often applied on conventional crops. Eighty-three percent of samples contained varying degrees of pesticide residues, with 25 percent showing one pesticide residue and 58 percent showing mixtures of two or more. Only 17 percent of […]

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21
Nov

Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]

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14
Nov

Monarch Population Loss Tallied at 80% since 2005

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2018) Monarch butterflies are in the midst of a staggering decades-long population decline that has rapidly accelerated since 2005, research published by an international team of scientists and the University of Florida last month indicates. According to data meticulously collected by researchers, monarchs making their way to central Florida after emerging from their breeding grounds in Mexico have declined by 80% over the last decade and a half. This is roughly the same time frame at which beekeepers began to see precipitous declines in managed honey bee colonies. Researchers point to industrial development and increasing pesticide use as factors that have accelerated the decline of this iconic species. “A broad pattern is that 95 percent of corn and soybean products grown in the U.S. are Roundup Ready crops that resist glyphosate,” said study coauthor Earnest Williams, PhD, of New York’s Hamilton College in a press release. “That has a national impact. What’s really needed are patches of native vegetation and nectar sources without pesticides. It’s not just for monarchs but all pollinators.” Beginning in 1985, renowned monarch expert Lincoln Brower, PhD and his team monitored monarch populations at a pesticide-free cattle pasture south of Gainesville, FL. […]

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01
Nov

Bumblebees Shown to Suffer Reproductive Failure after Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2018) A new study offers fresh evidence that wild bumblebee pollinators are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that exposure to these compounds interferes with mating success and population stability. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, measuring real-world harms of neonicotinoids, indicate that the impacts they found to bumblebee “reproducers,” namely queen and drone (male) bees, does not bode well for the array of plant species that relies on them. Though advocates warn that destabilizing managed pollinators could threaten U.S. food production and exports, with food prices increasing as cost of bringing pollinators to farms increases, the study’s authors and advocates insist that the impacts of such widespread poisoning of wild bees could be felt well beyond agriculture. Researchers in the lab compare behavioral and psychological responses of virgin queens, workers, and male Bombus impatiens from multiple colonies to field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. While every bee was given a replenishing supply of pollen based on body weight and energy demands, four distinct concentrations of diluted analytical-grade (pure) clothianidin (including a control with no pesticide added) were mixed into a nectar-like solution and fed to the bumblebees orally for 5 […]

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25
Oct

Bees’ Medicine Chest Should Include Sunflower Pollen, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2018) A study published last month in Scientific Reports finds that eating sunflower pollen significantly reduces protozoan infection in bumblebees. Studying ecosystem services and what she calls “floral rewards,” evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says sunflowers may provide a long sought after solution for improving bees’ immune system response to both disease and parasites. The researchers studied the protozoan Crithidia bombi, a common parasitic infection of bumble bees, known to impair learning and foraging, shorten lifespan and destabilize colony hierarchies by impacting queen bee behavior. From the outset of the study, Dr. Adler says, “the more sunflowers were grown at the farm, the lower the Crithidia load for the bees at that farm.” Knowing pollinators eat pollen as a source of protein and healthy fats, Dr. Adler hypothesized that both pollen and nectar might have medicinal effects against disease and parasites. However, her experiment did not show consistent results with nectar. After bees in the lab were starved for 4-6 hours, researchers fed individual worker bees from small colonies a drop of fructose fluid containing 6,000 Crithidia cells, being the approximate concentration bees may encounter in the wild while foraging. After […]

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19
Oct

EPA Considers 300,000-Acre Expansion of Bee-Toxic Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2018) Pollinator advocates and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are imploring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Bayer CropScience’s application for use of “Sivanto,”a pesticide product with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, a chemical the company claims is safer for bees, but poses the same risks at the notorious bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. If approved, Sivanto would be sprayed in tobacco-growing states along 300,000 acres in the southeast U.S., areas home to more than three dozen species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Bayer’s proposal for expanded uses comes after EPA’s own assessment indicated risks to endangered species, and despite the fact that the agency has not undergone an ESA mandated consultation with federal wildlife agencies. For the countless flying insects, birds, and bats already under significant threat from neonicotinoids, adding another systemic insecticide to the mix will only make the situation worse. Bayer AG is characterizing flupyradifurone as being harmless to honeybees. However, flupyradifurone, being a systemic pesticide, can negatively impact many non-target species.  In fact, flupyradifurone impacts honey bee brains in a similar way to neonicotinoids, as it impairs learning, memory and the honey bees’ affinity for nectar rewards. Advocates worry that growing […]

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11
Oct

Study Finds Organic Farming Methods Help Maintain Healthy Pollinator Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2018) Healthy, stable populations of bees and butterflies are best preserved in farm fields that are certified organic, according to an extensive, three-year study conducted by Swedish researchers at Lund University. The research, published last month in the journal Biological Conservation, highlights the benefits that organic farms provide pollinators by improving floral resources and forgoing the use of toxic pesticides. The data continues to support the need for a broad-scale conversion to more sustainable organic practices in the U.S. and internationally. “This is the first large-scale study over the course of several years to show that organic farming has a consistent, stabilizing effect on pollinator diversity,” says Romain CarriĂ©, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at CEC. Researchers recorded observations of bumblebees, butterflies and flowering plant species at 10 organic and 9 conventional farms throughout Sweden for three years. Farms were compared across type, including cereal fields, temporary grasslands, and semi-natural grasslands. The study aimed to observe the spatio-temporal aspects (continuity of the number of different species in space and time) of pollinators and flowering species in these fields. Results of the study found that, overall, organic farms had and sustained a higher rate of floral, bee, and butterfly […]

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04
Oct

Glyphosate Linked to Bee Deaths in University of Texas Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2018) According to new research from the University of Texas at Austin, glyphosate, the world’s most widely used agrichemical weed killer, may also be killing bees by impairing their gut microbiota, and subsequently, their immune systems.  The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees, notes these findings as evidence glyphosate could very well be contributing to the sharp decline of pollinators seen throughout the world over the past decade. Researchers began with a single hive and collected several hundred worker bees. One group of bees was fed a sterile sugar syrup, while others were exposed to levels of glyphosate equal to what is found in conventional crop fields, lawns and highway medians. To aid tracking and recapture, bees were marked with colored dots based on their grouping. Researchers sampled 15 individuals from each group of worker bees right before and three days after reintroduction back to the hive. At both times, DNA from the insects’ guts was extracted to observe whether glyphosate had significantly altered microbial diversity within their organ system. Results found relatively minimal impacts to bees tested prior to their […]

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12
Sep

Amsterdam Leads Bee Recovery Efforts by Banning Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Improving Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2018) The city of Amsterdam, Netherlands is leading global bee recovery efforts by increasing its diversity of wild pollinator species, according to reporting and an analysis by NBC News. A new map published by the city identified 21 bee species not found in an earlier 1998 survey recorded by Amsterdam officials. The increase has been attributed to a range of pollinator-protective measures, including a ban on bee-toxic pesticides and the planting of native flowers, prioritized by the city government since the turn of the century. Local communities throughout the world can look to Amsterdam for policies and practices that will safeguard their own unique pollinator populations. The NBC News report notes several initiatives undertaken by the Amsterdam government. Many of these measures come out of a $38.5 million fund aimed at broadly improving environmental sustainability. “Insects are very important because they’re the start of the food chain,” said Geert Timmermans, an Amsterdam ecologist to NBC News. “When it goes well with the insects, it also goes well with the birds and mammals.” Insect and bee hotels are often installed in conjunction with the development of green roofs, which are encouraged for all new buildings. And parks […]

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31
Aug

Study Finds Bumblebees Increasingly Attracted to the Pesticides that Kill Them

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2018) Given the choice to forage on untreated or pesticide-contaminated food sources, bees will increasingly choose the pesticide, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in late August. The data indicate that risks to pollinators grow, rather than wane, over time, making improved regulation over bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides even more climacteric. In essence, the study indicates that bees may be undertaking the human equivalent of chain-smoking themselves to death. Authors of the study note that numerous studies have been performed that subject bees to neonicotinoid-treated food, however this research generally allows pollinators to only forage on contaminated sources. While this provides important information on hazard criteria, it does not indicate risk of exposure. Positing the idea that pollinators may eventually seek to avoid neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar, researchers provided bumblebee colonies with a choice over the course of 10 days. At the start, the bees exhibited no discernable preference between toxic and nontoxic food. However, as time went on more and more bees fed from nectar laced with thiamethoxam, a widely used neonicotinoid. By the end of the experiment, food containing 2 parts per billion of the pesticide was eaten 10% more than in […]

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09
Aug

Massachusetts Pollinator Advocates Vow to Advance Protections after Legislature Fails to Restrict Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2018) Last week, the Massachusetts legislature failed to pass legislation that would have restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the state in order to protect sensitive pollinators, but advocates vow to campaign for a victory in the next legislative session. H. 4041, would have restricted neonicotinoid uses to certified applicators only. Massachusetts beekeepers lost 65 percent of honey bee hives this year, a rate 25 percent higher than the national average. H. 4041, An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators, introduced in 2017, failed to make it to the floor before the end of the legislative session, which ended July 31. The bill gained the support of more than 100 Massachusetts scientists and academics who sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support. Over 180 scientists, businesses, beekeepers, farmers, and conservationists formally endorsed this bill to restrict neonicotinoid use to licensed applicators. The Massachusetts County Beekeepers Association worked to organize an extensive grassroots advocacy movement in support of the bill. H.4041 would have placed “common-sense” restrictions on unlicensed use of neonicotinoids. It would require neonicotinoids to be used by licensed or certified applicators, and would also limit the use […]

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07
Aug

Trump Administration Reverses Ban of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges, as California Confirms Neonicotinoid Pesticides Harm Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2018) At the same time that a new analysis by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) finds current neonicotinoid uses in the state expose bees to residue levels known to cause harm, the Trump administration has reversed a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoids on National Wildlife Refuges. In 2014, newly passed state legislation required DPR to study the impacts of neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and dinotefuran) and adopt control measures to protect sensitive pollinator health within two years. In its report, released last month, DPR finds the highest risk to bees is posed by use of two neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, on cereal grains like corn, wheat, rice, and barley. The seeds of these crops are typically coated with neonicotinoids before planting, where residues persist in the pollen and nectar. Although these findings are not surprising and have been documented in the scientific literature, California’s analysis indicates neonicotinoids can cause much broader harm, including to pollinators commonly found on many types of vegetables, cereal grains, tree nuts, fruits and tobacco. Shortly after a decision in the Pacific Region, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically […]

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01
Aug

Suburban Bees Still Vulnerable to Neonicotinoids Despite EU Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2018) According to new research from the University of Sussex, bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to high levels of neonicotinoid pesticides. Even though there is a European Union (EU) ban on these chemicals, the ban focuses on agricultural and not residential applications. The study’s authors are urging gardeners to forgo the use of these pesticides in favor of more holistic, pesticide-free approaches. The authors of the study say it is the first of its kind to highlight the risk to bees in urban areas posed by garden use of pesticides. Entitled Monitoring neonicotinoid exposure for bees in rural and peri-urban areas of the UK during the transition from pre- to post-moratorium, the study sampled pollen and nectar from bumblebee colonies in rural and peri-urban habitats in three UK regions–Stirlingshire, Hertfordshire, and Sussex over three years. Sampling began prior to the ban (2013), during the initial implementation when some seed-treated winter-sown oilseed rape was still grown (2014), and following the ban (2015). Honey bee colonies in rural habitats were also sampled to compare species-level differences between bumblebees and honey bees. Not surprisingly, the researchers find pesticide contamination in more than 50 percent of the samples, […]

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29
Jun

Kroger Sets 2020 Phase-Out of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on Its Plants, Costco Encourages Suppliers to Change; Both Commit to Carry More Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2018) It is widely known that pollinators are in trouble. In light of this, Kroger (which includes numerous other grocery chains, like Harris Teeter) announced in a press release last week — during National Pollinator Week —  a phase-out by 2020 of live garden plants treated with the insecticides most closely associated with the decline of bee populations, the neonicotinoids. In May, Costco updated its pollinator policy, which “encourages” its suppliers of garden plants, fruits, and vegetables to limit the use of bee-toxic pesticides and adopt ecological practices. The company in 2016 announced a policy to encourage suppliers to change their pesticides. In a statement that has broad implications for pollinator and environmental protection, Kroger included the following statement about organic food in its press release: “Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a growing selection of organic fruits and vegetables.” Costco is also […]

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