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

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

(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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Ecosystem Critical to All Pollinators: Popular and Unpopular Pollinator Guide

Friday, June 23rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2023) Pollinators are especially important to the ecosystem. They pollinate plants by going from flower to flower and transferring pollen. Without pollinators, availability would be severely limited or cut off to many delicious foods, such as apples, almonds, cherries, blueberries, pumpkins, and many others. Many types of pollinators, like honey bees, bumble bees, and butterflies, are declining due to loss of habitat, widespread use of toxic pesticides, parasites, and disease. Help these important beneficial creatures by Not using toxic pesticides Planting pollinator habitats, like colorful flowers, gardens, and trees Telling your friends and family all about the importance of pollinators. Wild and Managed Bees Wild and managed bees play a crucial role in the global food system. About two-thirds of the world’s most important crops benefit from bee pollination, including coffee, cacao, and many fruits and vegetables. Wild pollination is becoming increasingly important with the growing instability of managed honey bee colonies. According to one study, wild bees’ agricultural value is now similar to that of honey bees, which are no longer considered wild in many regions due to their intense management. While many may prefer butterflies and birds to pay a visit to their gardens […]

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A Reminder for Pollinator Week: Protect Pollinator and Habitat and Well-Being Against Dramatic Declines

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2023) Pollinators––bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other organisms––make a critical contribution to plant health, crop productivity, and the preservation of natural resources. However, pesticides consistently act as a key contributor to dramatic pollinator declines. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Roughly a quarter of the global insect population has disappeared since 1990, according to research published in the journal Science. Monarchs are near extinction, and beekeepers continue to experience declines that are putting them out of business. We continue to lose mayflies, the foundation of many food chains, and fireflies, the foundation of many childhood summer memories. The declines in many bird species likely have close links to insect declines. Recent research finds that three billion birds, or 29% of bird abundance, have been lost since the 1970s. In a world where habitat loss and fragmentation show no sign of abating, scientists have concluded that the globe cannot afford to continue to subject its critically important wild insects to these combined threats.  Clean air, water, and healthy soils are integral to ecosystem function, interacting between Earth’s four main spheres (i.e., hydrosphere, […]

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Take Action: With Butterfly Decline Mounting, EPA Allows Continued Pesticide Use that Causes Threat

Monday, June 5th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2023) Butterflies—the most attractive of our insect fauna—are disappearing at an appalling rate, largely due to pesticide use. Recent studies have documented declines of almost 50% from 1990 to 2011 in Europe (with trends continuing), of 58 percent between 2000 and 2009 in the U.K., and of 33% from 1996–2016 in the state of Ohio in the U.S. Even steeper declines have been documented for Monarch butterflies, with an 80 percent decline of Eastern monarchs and 99 percent decline of Western monarchs. Tell EPA to eliminate pesticides that threaten butterflies. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior to help bring back butterflies by eliminating the use of pesticides that threaten them. Tell Congress that EPA and other agencies need to do their job and protect our most charismatic insects. Last year, EPA admitted that three neonicotinoid pesticides are “likely to adversely affect from two-thirds to over three-fourths of America’s endangered species—1,225 to 1,445 species in all,” including many butterfly species. On May 5 of this year, EPA released new analyses of these neonics’ effects on endangered species. EPA’s analyses focus on the species most at risk of extinction, and the results represent […]

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Study Shows 50% Decline in Butterfly Population Across the European Union, 1990-2011

Friday, May 26th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2023)The use of pesticides in agriculture, transportation, and domestic settings has created a disastrous conflict for the human species. Two irreconcilable facts confront humans as they try to adapt to the consequences of earlier choices: One, industrial civilization came to believe that because some insects, fungi, and other organisms like to eat the same plants humans eat, humans can kill them with impunity; two, because some insects and other organisms are necessary to the health and reproduction of plants, humans need to protect them. At no point in history have people acknowledged that it is very difficult to kill the “bad” actors while protecting the “good” ones. There are not really two sides to the biological fact; rather, pesticides and biodiversity meet each other on a single plane, like a Möbius strip. Among the most dire effects of pesticides are their ruination of pollinators. Bees spring to mind as our primary pollinators, but they are by no means the only ones. Butterflies, often regarded as mere ornamental additions to a landscape, are actually significant pollinators themselves. Monarchs pollinate many flowers, including calendula and yarrow. Other butterflies pollinate dill, celery, fennel, cilantro, lettuce, peas, and basil, among […]

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Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers Linked to “Shocking” Health and Environmental Crises

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

Today, Beyond Pesticides released a special issue, Transformative Change: Informed by Science, Policy, and Action of its journal, Pesticides and You, with a compendium of “shocking scientific findings that compel us to act in our communities, states, and as a nation and world community.” The 168-page issue documents the last year of scientific, peer-reviewed articles, policy deficiencies, and action for change that intersect not only with petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, but with existential health crises, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.

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Protect Bees, Trees, You and Me This Earth Day 2023

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2023) This Earth Day (Saturday, April 22, 2023), Beyond Pesticides urges individuals to spread awareness of the toxic pesticides that poison people and the environment and the safe alternatives that are available to safeguard communities and the surrounding environment. On Earth Day, reflecting on the beauty and wonder of the natural world highlights the importance of restoration and preservation to maintain the planet’s intricate web of life. However, the natural world on which life depends is under dire threat as the dependence on toxic chemicals (e.g., pesticides) enables ongoing environmental contamination. Mechanized and industrial human activity perpetuates ongoing toxic chemical contamination, resulting in massive die-offs of beneficial organisms, increased rates of autoimmune diseases, endocrine disrupting and transgenerational chemical effects, and widespread pollution of our air and waterways. Beyond Pesticides, has the tools needed to increase environmental awareness in your community. Therefore, this Earth Day, Beyond Pesticides continues to advocate for the adoption of organic practices and policies that alleviate threats to ecosystems and enhance biodiversity. Michigan State University professor Thomas Dietz, Ph.D. highlights, “Continuing the successes of environmentalism—an integration of science, a concern with human well-being and justice, and a recognition of the need to consider […]

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

Thursday, April 6th, 2023

(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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More Dramatic Insect Decline Confirms Inadequate Action on Pending Biodiversity Collapse

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2023) Areas designated to protect insects fail to do so for over 75 percent of global species, according to a study, “Three-quarters of insect species are insufficiently represented by protected areas,” published in the online journal One Earth. Protected Areas (PAs) act as a safeguard for biodiversity. However, PAs in North America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia do not meet the minimum coverage requirements to safeguard global insect species assessed in the study. PAs are discussed in the 2020 Nature article, “Area-based conservation in the twenty-first century,” in which the authors state that, in view of the global biodiversity crisis, national governments must do much more to increase protected areas with “coverage across different elements of biodiversity (ecoregions, 12,056 threatened species, ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ and wilderness areas) and ecosystem services (productive fisheries, and carbon services on land and seas).” The authors write, citing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (to which the United States is not a signatory), “To be more successful after 2020, area-based conservation must contribute more effectively to meeting global biodiversity goals—ranging from preventing extinctions to retaining the most-intact ecosystems—and must better collaborate with the many Indigenous peoples, community groups and private initiatives […]

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Calling for Reform of Pesticide Regulation to Address Health, Biodiversity, and Climate Crises

Monday, January 9th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2023) The Biden EPA still needs a new vision in order to meet the existential crises in public health, climate change, and biodiversity. The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by the EPA in decades. Despite a broad new perspective embodied in President Biden’s Executive Memorandum (EM) Modernizing Regulatory Review issued on his first day in office, the Biden EPA has not adopted a new direction for regulating pesticides. Tell President Biden, EPA, and Congress to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden issued the EM, which directs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This EM could reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). The President’s EM sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to […]

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

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

(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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Monarchs Listed as Endangered by International Safety Group, while U.S. Fails to Take Meaningful Action

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2022) As monarch butterfly numbers continue to drop throughout the United States, an international conservation group is listing the migratory monarch butterfly as endangered. The move by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) places pressure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to prioritize protections for this rapidly dwindling iconic species. “Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of nature’s wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres,” said Bruno Oberle, PhD, IUCN Director General. “To preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems. In turn, conserving biodiversity supports communities by providing essential services such as food, water and sustainable jobs.” Migratory monarch butterflies are under threat from a range of factors harming both their western and eastern populations. Logging and deforestation have destroyed much of their overwintering grounds in Mexico and California. Climate change has subjected the butterflies to temperature anomalies and extremes, severe weather, and wildfires. Herbicide use has eliminated millions of acres of breeding habitat by killing off milkweed plants that monarchs require to rear their […]

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Supreme Court Permits Large Jury Verdicts on Roundup, Appeals Court Finds EPA Registration Unlawful

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2022) Bad news is piling up for Bayer (Monsanto) and its carcinogenic flagship weed killer, glyphosate (Roundup). Last week, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down a ruling that held the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2020 approval of its notorious weed killer glyphosate unlawful. Then, yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider (deny certiorari) Bayer’s “Hail Mary” petition attempt to save the company from being held accountable to those diagnosed with cancer after using Roundup (glyphosate) herbicides. In both cases, the courts are acting as a check on a company, while EPA regulators charged with stopping this behavior continue to rubber stamp the agrichemical industry’s dangerous decisions. This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has upheld the rights of victims of the pesticide industry. In 2004, Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (U.S. Supreme Court, No. 03-388), the court found: “The long history of tort litigation against manufacturers of poisonous substances adds force to the basic presump­tion against pre-emption. If Congress had intended to deprive injured parties of a long available form of compen­sation, it surely would have expressed that intent more clearly. See Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U. […]

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Texas AG Tells Fed Endangered Habitat Should Not Stand in Way of Border Wall

Friday, April 29th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2022) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) plan to list a rare milkweed species, and the areas in which it grows in south Texas, as critical and endangered has garnered political pushback from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In February, FWS announced its intention to list 691 acres of prostrate milkweed habitat in order to protect it, given its critical role in supporting monarch butterfly populations. But Attorney General (AG) Paxton sent a letter to FWS saying that the critical and endangered determination “would further destabilize Texas’s border, hindering the construction of the border wall,” and that it would risk security on the border with Mexico. FWS countered with a press release stating that, “This listing and critical habitat proposal is based on the best available science, including a species status assessment that included input and review from academia and state agencies.” The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates that federal agencies, in consultation with FWS and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, ensure that any actions in which they engage (whether authorizing, implementing, or funding) are unlikely to jeopardize the existence of a listed species, or have negative impacts on […]

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Backyard Bird Counts Begin this Fall; Pledge Your Pollinator-Friendly Land

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2021) It is the time of the year for backyard bird counts to begin. Birdwatching is the most popular form of amateur science. It takes little to get started. Birds are fun to watch and photogenic. Birdwatching may be practiced alone or in groups. Birdwatching is also a way to participate in science, and you can do it from home. Cornell Lab of Ornithology collaborates with other organizations to gather data collected at feeders and elsewhere. Cornell Lab’s eBird is one of the world’s largest biodiversity-related science projects, with more than 100 million sightings reported annually. eBird and FeederWatch data document bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends. According to Cornell Lab, “eBird data are stored across secure facilities, archived daily, and are freely accessible to anyone. eBird data have been used in hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and help inform bird research worldwide.” Data submitted to eBird are also used to support conservation measures. If birds aren’t your favorites, all kinds of citizen science programs that ensure that conservation decisions are informed by the best available data, which is a fundamental challenge in the face of rapid global environmental […]

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New Factsheets Alert Communities to Adverse Effects of Commonly Used Landscape Pesticides

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Health and environmental effects disclosed on factsheets to guide community decisions on lawn and landscape management that do not poison people and contaminate the environment. WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 14, 2021) — Today, the national environmental and public health group Beyond Pesticides is releasing its health and environmental effects factsheets for “40 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides,” updating and expanding on previous factsheets on 30 pesticides. These comprehensive factsheets documents with scientific citations a wide range of diseases and ecological effects linked to pesticides. The underlying analysis supporting the adverse health and environmental effects identified in the factsheets are based on toxicity determinations in government reviews and university studies and databases. What do the factsheets disclose? Of the 40 most commonly used lawn and landscape pesticides, in reference to adverse health effects, 26 are possible and/or known carcinogens, 24 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system, 29 are linked to reproductive effects and sexual dysfunction, 21 have been linked to birth defects, 24 are neurotoxic, 32 can cause kidney or liver damage, and 33 are sensitizers and/or irritants. Regarding adverse environmental effects, 21 are detected in groundwater, 24 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 39 are toxic to […]

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American Bumblebee Considered for Endangered Status, But Will “Critical Habitat” Be Defined?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will consider listing the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act, according to a notice published in the Federal Register late last month. Earlier this year, the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the agency to list the species. USFWS review of the petition indicates that it found “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and will determine over the next year whether final listing and further protective actions are warranted.  With the American bumblebee experiencing an 89% decline in its population over the last 20 years, scientists and advocates  believe it is critical for USFWS to take steps to protect what remains of this iconic species. At one time, the American bumblebee’s range extended from eastern Canada south through the United States into Florida, and as far west as California. Oregon is the only state in the continental US where the species has never been spotted. Declines are particularly pronounced in the northern part of its range, where recent sightings are nil, and assessments for states like New […]

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Millions of Acres in West To Be Sprayed with Toxic Insecticides for Grasshoppers

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2021) Western states are in the midst of one of the largest spray campaigns in recent history, targeting native grasshopper species on more than two million acres of rangeland with highly toxic insecticides. Grasshopper populations have exploded this year due to the West’s ongoing drought, and government officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hoping that hazardous pesticide use will stop the voracious winged insects from consuming forage used by cattle operations. Environmental groups are urging changes to the program, which has conducted insecticide campaigns against the native grasshoppers since the 1930s. “Aerial application of insecticides on this scale will eliminate millions of insects that pollinate, recycle plant nutrients and perform natural pest control,” said Sharon Selvaggio, Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. “Insecticide sprays on this scale across native ecosystems are short-sighted and unsustainable.” According to a June 2020 press release, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is spending $5.3 million dollars of taxpayer money in order to conduct what it calls “suppression treatments.” APHIS claims the $5.3 million will protect $8.7 million worth of agricultural resources, but advocates argue that the agency has failed to meet the “level of economic […]

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Conservation Genomics Pinpoint Pesticides and Pathogens in Decline of Bumblebees

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2021) Bumblebees exposed to pesticides and pathogens display changes in gene expression that can be pinpointed and analyzed by cutting edge research tools, according to scientists at York university, who utilized the new technique in a study published in Molecular Ecology. This form of next-generation gene sequencing is part of a growing field of science known as conservation genomics, in which entire animal genomes are sequenced to determine conservation problems. “Next-generation sequencing is a totally new way to think about why bees are declining, which could revolutionize conservation biology,” says study coauthor Amro Zayed, PhD, associate professor in biology at York. “We’re looking directly at bee tissues  to try and get clues to the stressors that are affecting this bee. I think this is a gamechanger for sure. With a single study, we are able to implicate a couple of really obvious things we’ve talked about for years – pathogens and pesticides – in the case of Bombus terricola.” Researchers focused on Bombus terricola – the yellow banded bumblebee, as its range has declined significantly over the last two decades. The bumblebee was once common throughout the eastern and midwestern part of the U.S. and Canada, […]

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Tell Your Congressional Reps to Cosponsor Pollinator Legislation; Thank Those Who Already Have

Monday, July 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2021) During Pollinator Week 2021 in June, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) to reverse ongoing declines in wild and managed pollinators. New data released in June for 2020-21 documents the second highest honey bee losses in 15 years. SAPA uses the latest scientific research and perspectives to ensure that pollinators are protected. The bill suspends the use of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides and other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators until an independent board of experts determines that they are safe to use, based on a strong scientific assessment. Ask your elected representative in Congress to support pollinators by cosponsoring Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA). If they are already a cosponsor, use this occasion to thank them for their leadership on this critical issue. “Without our world’s pollinators, the world would be a very different place. These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures are essential elements of our food system. Losing them means we risk losing the very food we put on our table,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We must use every tool at our disposal to provide pollinators with much-needed relief from bee-toxic pesticides and monitor […]

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Saving America’s Pollinators Act Reintroduced, Advocates Urge Congressional Action to Stop Pollinator Decline

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2021) This Pollinator Week 2021, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) are reintroducing the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) in an effort to reverse ongoing declines in wild and managed pollinators. SAPA uses the latest scientific research and perspectives to ensure that pollinators are protected. The bill suspends the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators until an independent board of experts determine that they are safe to use, based on strong scientific assessment. “Without our world’s pollinators, the world would be a very different place. These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures are essential elements of our food system. Losing them means we risk losing the very food we put on our table,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We must use every tool at our disposal to provide pollinators with much-needed relief from bee-toxic pesticides and monitor their populations to ensure their health and survival.”  Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides; once applied to a seed or sprayed on a plant they make their way into the pollen, nectar and dew droplets that plants produce and pollinators feed upon. Exposure impairs pollinator navigation, foraging, and learning behavior, and also suppresses their […]

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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2021) Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and […]

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TAKE ACTION: Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction!  

Monday, February 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2021) The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society, was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are, within their lifetimes, likely to experience a world where western monarchs are extinct. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons. 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 to 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 well-known 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 […]

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