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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


28
Jul

Researchers Developing New Methods to Detect Pesticide Contamination in Bee Hives

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2020) With honey bees around the world under threat from toxic pesticide use, researchers are investigating a new way to track environmental contaminants in bee hives. This new product, APIStrip (Adsorb Pesticide In-hive Strip), can be placed into bee hives and act as a passive sampler for pesticide pollution. Honey bees are sentinel species for environmental pollutants, and this new technology could provide a helpful way not only for beekeepers to pinpoint problems with their colonies, but also track ambient levels of pesticide pollution in a community. According to a study published by an international team of researchers, APIStrip has the potential to detect 442 pesticides as well as their primary break down products at levels lover than parts per billion. The strip, comprised of polymer, is what scientists describe as “a bee-proof, in-hive passive sampler.” Current methods of sampling honey bee hives for contaminants is time-consuming, requiring removal of bees, pollen, honey or beeswax, and can result in significant hive disturbance. This new method was piloted by citizen-science beekeepers, and according to researchers proved to be a simple and effective tool that any interested citizen-scientist could employ. Passive sampling of environmental contaminants by citizen scientists […]

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16
Jul

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

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

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23
Jun

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

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

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22
Jun

Pollinator Week: We Protect People at Greatest Risk When We Protect Pollinators and the Environment from Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2020) In the wake of the national groundswell for equity and justice in the face of rampant inequality and police brutality against people of color, we acknowledge, during Pollinator Week, holistic actions are needed to solve systemic societal problems that cause racial disparities. Those fighting for environmental justice understand that the harms inflicted by toxic chemical production and use cause disproportionate adverse effects on people of color—from fenceline communities near chemical production plants, to the hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, to the elevated risk factors for black and brown people from toxic pesticide exposure patterns.  Pollinator Week reminds us that we must nurture the ecosystem, which we depend on for life, with a fierce commitment to its inhabitants and a focus on those at highest risk. Therefore, this week is a time to renew our commitment to environmental justice and seek the adoption of policies and practices in our communities, and across the nation and the world, that recognize the urgency to address the disproportionate harm inflicted by toxic pesticide use.  TAKE ACTION! Here are three things you can do today. Protect Low-Income and People of Color Communities—As The Black Institute in New […]

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12
Jun

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

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

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08
Jun

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

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

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08
Jun

Report Finds Monocropping and Toxic Pesticides Threaten Brazil’s Native Bees as Country’s President Challenges Environmental Protection

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2020) Brazil is home to more than 300 native bee species — many of them stingless — that help pollinate the nation’s valuable agricultural crops and provide other important environmental services. Yet, chemical-intensive agriculture’s intensive pesticide use and devotion to monocropping are a serious threat to these bees, Mongabay reports. Beyond Pesticides maintains that elimination of such pesticides is key to protecting critical pollinators, ensuring a nontoxic food supply, supporting ecosystems and biodiversity, and ensuring safe working conditions for agricultural workers and safety for rural residents. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices, which often avoid monocropping, achieve all of these important goals. Advocates maintain that a transition to such practices is imperative in ensuring a far less toxic future for humans, other residents of Planet Earth, and Nature itself. The Brazilian Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimates the financial value of pollinators in Brazil, which include bees, moths, bats, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and other organisms, at roughly $8 billion annually. Most honey production in Brazil (and globally) comes from one species, Apis mellifera — a hybrid of European and African species that arrived in the Americas in the early 17th century. A. mellifera is still the dominant […]

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27
May

Neonics Found to Impair Honey Bee Growth and Development, As EPA Re-Opens Opportunity for Public Comment on the Bee-Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2020) Research published last week in the journal Scientific Reports uncovers new ways that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides hamper the growth and development of honey bee colonies. As new data on the link between neonics and pollinator declines continues to flow from academic institutions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-opened the public comment period on its proposal to renew the registration of these highly toxic insecticides. The present study, led by German scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, uses new video techniques to observe the behavior of honey bees behind a glass-pane hive. Researchers filmed their study from start to finish, focusing on the effect of chronic sublethal doses of the neonciotinoids clothianidin and thiacloprid. Colonies were fed these chemicals in a sugar syrup over the course of three weeks in May and June. Even at low levels, scientists found significant changes to brood rearing and development, and the behavior of nurse bees. Nurse bees play a pivotal role in honey bee colonies. These young worker bees clean out old brood cells (where larvae develop), feed larval bees after a queen lays its eggs, and finish by capping a brood cell with wax. Within […]

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26
May

EU Proposes 2030 Goal to Reduce Pesticide Use by 50% and Increase Arable Land in Organic Production by At Least 17%

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2020) Across the pond, the European Commission (EC) has announced plans to protect biodiversity and build a more sustainable food system, and identified the reduction of pesticide use  and the expansion of organic agriculture as pillars of the scheme. The EC expects that the initiative, which will require EU member states’ endorsement, will advance progress on the EU goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, given that 10% of emissions arise from the agricultural sector. The EC’s goals are important and laudable, but Beyond Pesticides is clear: reduction of pesticide use in service of them is not an adequate strategy to ensure long-term success. Genuine success requires the elimination of the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic inputs, and the transition to agricultural and land management systems that work with nature, rather than fight against it. Regenerative, organic practices are the path to a livable future, according to Beyond Pesticides. The EC, which is the executive branch of the EU, expects its plan to reduce use of pesticides by 50% by 2030; reduce use of antimicrobial chemicals, including antibiotics, in fish and animal farming by 50%; dedicate a minimum of 25% of arable […]

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30
Apr

Animal Fodder – A Driver of the Global Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2020) Chemical-intensive farming of crops for animal fodder powers the global market for highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), according to data analyzed by Unearthed, and the Swiss NGO Public Eye. Animal fodder production not only intensifies global pollution, but it also increases pesticide exposure and degrades human, animal, and environmental health. This data analysis supports advocates advancing pesticide policies to eliminate HHPs by identifying which toxic chemicals lead global pesticide sales. However, it will take more than eliminating the worst chemicals to address the impending biodiversity collapse and the climate crisis, according to experts who point to the need for an urgent shift to organic land and agricultural management practices. United Nations’ (UN) special rapporteur on toxic substances and human rights, Baskut Tuncak, says, “There is nothing sustainable about the widespread use of highly hazardous pesticides for agriculture. Whether they poison workers, extinguish biodiversity, persist in the environment, or accumulate in a mother’s breast milk, these are unsustainable, cannot be used safely, and should have been phased out of use long ago.”  Unearthed and Public Eye investigated over $23 billion in global pesticide market sales to determine the proportion of pesticides considered highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network’s […]

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28
Apr

One Quarter of Global Insect Population Lost Since 1990

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2020) Roughly a quarter of the global insect population has been wiped out since 1990, according to new research published in the journal Science. Billed as one of the most comprehensive assessments to date, the study finds significant overall insect declines, but notes of some specific bright spots. While variation in the ongoing crisis is to be expected, ultimately the trends in the data show the need for immediate policy and regulatory action to protect the insect world as the foundation of global food webs. The team of European scientists behind the research analyzed 166 studies spread out over 41 countries, and consisting of over 1,600 sites, with data beginning in the mid-1920s. Overall trends found declines in terrestrial insect biomass to be nearly 1% each year (~9% each decade). However, contrasting this data was a bright spot – freshwater insects were found to be increasing at an annual rate just over 1% (~11% each decade). The authors caution, however, that because fresh water covers only 2.4% of the earth’s surface, the increase may not be a good spatial representative of broader trends. While North America appeared to show more significant declines when compared to Europe, […]

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23
Apr

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

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

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16
Apr

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

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

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09
Apr

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

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

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31
Mar

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

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

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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09
Mar

Plant Organic Seeds and Plants; Tell Your State to Act to Protect Pollinators This Spring

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2020) It’s time to think about gardening! Whether you’re growing vegetables to eat or flowers for pollinators, you’ll want to be sure that your seeds and plants are free from harmful pesticides. Seeds and plants in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with toxic fungicides and bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them. Plant organic seeds and plants! As bees suffer serious declines in their populations, we urge people and communities to plant habitat that supports pollinator populations, and have provided information to facilitate this in our BEE Protective Habitat Guide. However, plants are too often grown with hazardous pesticides that either harm pollinators in their cultivation or threaten bees as they pollinate or forage on treated plants. For more information on the dangers of neonicotinoid coated seeds, see Beyond Pesticides’ short video Seeds That Poison. Beyond Pesticides has compiled a directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. Specific questions on each seller’s seeds can be directed to their customer service line. You can also download a handy bi-fold brochure version of this […]

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06
Mar

Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

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21
Feb

Minnesota Introduces Bee-Friendly Pesticide Legislation and Fights for Local Rights

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2020) Last week in Minnesota, state Representative Jean Wagenius introduced measure H.F. 1255 that would give cities the opportunity to ban local use of bee-lethal pesticides. This is the latest in a series of attempts to fight state pesticide preemption, an industry-promoted law that prevents localities from restricting pesticide use more stringently than the state. In the face of inaction at the federal and state levels, advocates and legislators in Minnesota are attempting to regain local control to help save their declining, Midwestern pollinators. Representative Wagenius says about the measure, “Minnesotans should be able to protect pollinators if they want to. We value local control in this state, and we always have.” H.F. 1255 will allow cities to opt into a blanket ban of pesticides determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be hazardous to bees. Pesticides with an EPA bee-advisory box are listed on the state’s Department of Agriculture website and referred to as “bee-lethal” by Minnesota legislators. Patrick Hanlon, director of environmental programs for the city of Minneapolis, says cities would work with Department of Agriculture, businesses, and residents that might be impacted by these restrictions before enacting the bill. Local advocates have […]

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30
Jan

Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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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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