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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Increased Vulnerability to Diseases from Chemical Exposure' Category


13
Sep

Pollinator Health: The Climate Crisis Weakens Bees’ Ability to Withstand Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2023) A study published in Global Change Biology finds climate change increases bees’ sensitivity to pesticide exposure, impairing the pollinators’ ability to respond to light (Ultra-Violet [UV] stimuli), reducing floral syrup consumption, and lessening longevity (length of life) up to 70 percent. Notably, the reduction in floral syrup consumption indicates nutritional stress that further impacts bee species’ fecundity (productiveness), driving bee declines. Unless more is done to combat the climate crisis, the current global warming scenario increasing bees’ sensitivity to pesticide exposure will continue to threaten all pollinator health. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure, combined with climate change, threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk, including pollinators. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many agricultural and nonagricultural plant species will decline or cease to exist as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly […]

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29
Aug

Pollinator Health: Common Fungicide Linked to Changes in Honey Bees’ Brain through Oxidative Stress

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2023) A study published in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology finds the widely used azole fungicide, tebuconazole, has damaging impacts on the redox homeostasis (the process of maintaining balance between oxidizing and reducing reactions) and fatty acid composition in honey bees’ brain via oxidative stress. Acute, field-realistic sublethal exposure to tebuconazole decreased the brain’s antioxidant capacity, key antioxidant defense systems, and oxidative degradation and alteration of lipids (fats) in the brain. Thus, this study adds to the scientific literature on the adverse effects of chemical exposure on pollinator health, especially in sublethal concentrations. Degenerating cognitive skills can threaten honey bee survivability, decreasing colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist, as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, depress crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the […]

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09
May

Colorado Limits Bee-Toxic Pesticide Use, as EPA Details Harm to Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2022) The Colorado legislature last week passed SB23-266, a bill limiting the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides in the state. The news comes as other states consider their own restrictions, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing details on exactly which endangered species are set to be harmed by the ongoing use of these harmful insecticides. This latest news shows that protecting pollinators is possible, and urgently needed given growing understanding of the dangers these chemicals pose to the most vulnerable wildlife in the country.   The Colorado bill requires the state’s commissioner of agriculture to adopt rules designating neonicotinoid pesticides as ‘limited-use’ pesticides in the state. With this designation, only licensed pesticide dealers may sell products containing these chemicals. Per the state’s legal code, the “limited-use” designation means the same as a federal “restricted-use” pesticide, which permits sales and use only for certified applicators. Passage of this bill marks an important step forward for pollinator protection efforts in the state. It will help ensure that homeowners are not able to easily purchase this product at big box retailers, but will allow continued use in residential areas and in agriculture. Colorado’s bill fulfills guidance […]

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06
Apr

Pesticides and the Climate Crisis: Bumble Bee Behavior Thwarted by Temperature and Chemical Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2023) A study published in Global Change Biology adds to research demonstrating that climate change can exacerbate the adverse impacts of pesticide exposure on managed and wild bees. Temperature can alter the sublethal effect pesticides, particularly the neonicotinoid (neonic) imidacloprid and the sulfoximine sulfoxaflor, have on bumble bee behavior tied to fitness and pollination services. Both an increase and decrease in temperature can cause diverging thermal responses in bumble bee behavior. However, increasing temperature bares more severe behavior abnormalities than cooler temperatures. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure combined with climate change threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival. Now more than ever, people are changing their sentiment toward sustainability, with two-thirds of consumers stating the importance of limiting climate change impacts and 88 percent supporting greater pollution reduction. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for […]

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02
Feb

Study on National Pollinator Declines Blames Pesticides, Pests, and Extreme Weather

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2023) Honey bee declines in the United States are “primarily related” to pesticide exposure, parasitic mites, and extreme weather conditions, research published by Penn State scientists have determined. Publishing the results in Scientific Reports, the researchers aim to provide a national overview of the range of factors harming bee colonies. “Some previous studies have explored several potential stressors related to colony loss in a detailed way but are limited to narrow, regional areas,” said study co-author Luca Insolia, PhD. “The one study that we know of at the national level in the United States explored only a single potential stressor. For this study, we integrated many large datasets at different spatial and temporal resolutions and used new, sophisticated statistical methods to assess several potential stressors associated with colony collapse across the U.S.” The results reinforce calls from bee health advocates in the U.S. and around the world: eliminate toxic pesticide use, the lowest hanging fruit contributing to pollinator declines. In order to create a more comprehensive national overview, geographers, entomologists, and statisticians all participated in the study, reviewing publicly available data on colony health, land use, weather, and other environmental factors over a five-year period from […]

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18
Jan

Growing Sunflowers Near Honey Bee Colonies Helps Reduce Mite Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2023) Sunflower plantings have the potential to significantly reduce mite infestations in nearby honey bee colonies, according to research recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology by researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With pollinators under threat from pesticides, climate change, loss of habitat, and the spread of disease and parasites, sustainable methods that address multiple factors at once are needed. This study points to a way to address destructive Varroa mites, while reducing the need for in-hive use of miticides that can likewise harm colony health. “If sunflowers are as big of a factor in mite infestation as indicated by our landscape-level correlations … having a few more acres of sunflower within a mile or two of apiaries could bring colonies below the infestation levels that require treatment of hives with acaracides (i.e., mite-controlling chemicals),” said lead author Evan Palmer-Young, PhD, of USDA’s Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, MD. Prior research has pointed to sunflower pollen as a potential benefit for a number of common bee diseases and infestations, including the Varroa mite, the fungal parasites Nosema spp, and various viruses. Investigations went through four different experiments aimed at characterizing any potential […]

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20
Oct

Glyphosate Based Herbicides and Bee Health: The American Bumble Bee

(Beyond Pesticide, October 20,2022) Exposure to environmentally relevant levels of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) weakens bumblebees’ (Bombus Terrestris) ability to distinguish between colors or fine-color discrimination. According to research published in Science of The Total Environment, a lack of fine-color discrimination skills can threaten bumble bee survivability through impact on colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. In the U.S., an increasing number of pollinators, including the American bumblebee and monarch butterfly, are being added or in consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act, with specific chemical classes like systemic neonicotinoid insecticides putting 89% or more of U.S. endangered species at risk. Pollinator decline directly affects the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, limits crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, as much of the economy (65%) depends upon the strength of the agricultural sector. As science shows, pesticides are one of the most significant stressors […]

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13
Sep

Multiple Pesticides Detected in All Store-Bought Milkweed, Threatening Further Monarch Declines

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2022) Every store-bought milkweed sample tested in a recent study contains multiple toxic pesticides, placing monarchs reliant on these plants in harm’s way at a time the species can ill afford any further loss to its population. Pollinator declines have influenced many residents throughout the U.S. to take action into their own hands and transform their home yards or businesses into an oasis for bees, birds, and butterflies. Yet the recent study published in Biological Conservation finds that many retailers are dousing their ‘wildlife-friendly’ plants with pesticides that put this vulnerable species in further danger. “That was the most shocking part,” said lead author Christopher Halsch, a doctoral study at University of Nevada, Reno. “The fact that plants labeled as potentially beneficial or at least friendly to wildlife are not better and in some cases might be worse than other plants available for purchase. This research sheds light on how pesticides may impact western monarchs, but many other butterflies are facing even steeper population declines, and pesticides are likely one driver.” Testing was conducted by purchasing milkweed plants at 33 different stores spanning 15 different states. A sample of each plant was cut after purchase, and […]

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23
Jun

Disappearance of California Bumble Bees Calls for Urgent Protection of Pollinators Nationwide

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2022) In the first California statewide bumble bee census in 40 years, a University of California—Riverside (UCR) study, published in Ecology and Evolution, reveals that once common bumble bee species in California are disappearing from the ecosystem. Wild pollinators like bumble bees provide pollination to billions of dollars worth of crops each year as these insects can flourish in cooler habitats and lower light levels than commercial honey bees. However, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to establish monitoring and conservation frameworks incorporating varying habitats and species to assess fluctuations in biodiversity. The study notes, “Specifically, our study shows that greater monitoring of the diverse bumble bees of California is needed in order to better understand the drivers of biodiversity and decline in this genus, and to more effectively manage bumble bee conservation in the state.”  Researchers compared data on bumble bee populations in California in 1980 and 2020. After collecting bumble […]

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31
May

DDT Still Harming Birds of Prey, 50 Years After Its Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2022) Fifty years after the banning of DDT, the notorious insecticide is still harming iconic birds of prey along the California coastline. According to research published in Environmental Science and Technology, California condors and marine mammals along California’s coast are contaminated with several dozen different halogenated organic compounds (hazardous, often-chlorinated chemicals) related to DDT, chlordane, and other now-banned legacy chemicals. The findings highlight the incredible importance of addressing these original “forever chemicals,” and making certain that we do not continue to repeat the mistakes of the past with new and different, yet equally dangerous, chemistries. Between 1947 and 1971, the Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, the largest historical producer of DDT, released over 1,700 tons of DDT into the LA sewer system, which eventually made its way into the Pacific Ocean. During this time, several other companies discharged PCBs, leading to further chemical contamination of land and sediment. As recent as April 2021, scientists discovered 25,000 barrels likely containing DDT near Catalina Island along the southern California coast. These releases have resulted in serious environmental and health problems throughout the coastal food chain. Yet, as the present study shows, scientists are only beginning to understand the […]

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23
Feb

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

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

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27
Jan

Monarch Butterfly Near Extinction—Calls for Urgent Federal Action

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2021) Lowest ever recorded! That’s the result of a yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are likely to experience, within their lifetimes, a world where western monarchs are extinct—unless the federal government acts now. Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count.  In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell into the low single digits, roughly 1.2 million. Five years ago counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at iconic overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring clusters of monarch butterflies,” said Sarina Jepsen, […]

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29
Oct

Natural Areas Surrounding Farmland Critical to Reducing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2020) Natural areas around farmlands play an important role in managing pest outbreaks and therefore reducing insecticide use, a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters finds. While industrial agriculture puts pressure on farmers to grow single crops on ever larger farms to achieve economies of scale, these monoculture landscapes have significant downsides for public health and the environment. “Overall, our results suggest that simplified landscapes increase vineyard pest outbreaks and escalate insecticide spray frequencies,” said lead author Daniel Paredes, PhD, to the Daily Democrat. “In contrast, vineyards surrounded by more productive habitats and more shrubland area are less likely to apply insecticides.” To investigate the effect of nearby landscapes on farm pest pressure, the team of University of California, Davis scientists used a database created by the government of Spain. For 13 years, the government monitored 400 Spanish vineyards for the presence of the European Grapevine Moth. The moth is a notorious vineyard pest (discovered in California vineyards in 2009), laying three generations of eggs on grapes. In the first generation, the moth larvae will web and feed on flowers. In the second and third, they feed on berries, damaging harvests. Scientists developed a […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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12
Mar

Based on New Data,Tell Your Governor to Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2018) European Regulators Confirm Neonicotinoids Harm Bees, Increasing Likelihood of Continent-Wide Ban A comprehensive assessment released last week by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, pose risks to honey bees and wild pollinators. EFSA analyzed over 1,500 studies from academia, beekeeper associations, chemical companies, farmer groups, non-governmental organizations, and national regulators. EFSA’s risk assessment provides a definitive, independent conclusion that overall, continued use of these chemicals risks the long-term health of pollinator populations. Tell Your Governor to Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides “The availability of such a substantial amount of data as well as the guidance has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions,” said Jose Tarazona, PhD, head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit in a press release. This is EFSA’s second comprehensive evaluation of the three most commonly used neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. Earlier research finalized in 2013 led the European Union (EU) to ban use of the three neonicotinoids on agricultural flowering crops. The new assessment applies EFSA guidance to assessing risks to bees and on the initial review. It includes literature not only on honey bees, but also on wild pollinators, including bumblebees […]

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