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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

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 call for action to reduce the […]

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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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Monarch Butterfly Near Extinction—Calls for Urgent Federal Action

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

(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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Farmworkers and Conservationists Ask Court to Remove Monsanto’s Roundup from the Market

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2020) Opening arguments and evidence were filed by a coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists last week in litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” pesticides. The lawsuit charges that the Trump Administration unlawfully ignored cancer risks and ecological damage of glyphosate.  Represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plaintiffs, including the Rural Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and Beyond Pesticides, filed the federal lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March. The groups seek to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval. “Farmworkers are on the frontlines of nearly every health and environmental crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, and are particularly at risk of health impacts from pesticide spraying,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS. “EPA failed these essential workers. It rejected evidence that glyphosate causes cancer and entirely failed to assess the main way people are exposed at work, through their skin.” The court filing includes volumes of evidence showing how EPA ignored glyphosate’s health risks, including cancer risks, to farmworkers and farmers exposed during spraying. The evidence […]

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Tell President-elect Biden to Adopt a New Direction for Pesticide Regulation

Monday, December 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2020) The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by EPA in decades, and that push continues. The Biden EPA needs to advance a new vision. Tell President-elect Biden to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Challenge so-called “benefits” of pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to weigh risks against benefits when registering pesticides. Claimed “benefits” for toxic pesticides need to be judged in comparison to organic production, which is able to produce all types of food and feed. The Organic Trade Association reports that organic sales now exceed $55 billion per year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that organic producers in the U.S. produced $9.9 billion worth of organic food on 5.5 million acres in 2019. EPA assumes benefits of pesticides, rather than measuring them, and does not take into account the development of resistance. The cost-competitive success of organic food production and nonagricultural land management practices make the case that toxic pesticides lack benefits. Protect pollinators. Agriculture relies on insect pollinators to facilitate fertilization and maintain annual crop yield. Globally, the production of crops dependent on pollinators is worth […]

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Monarch Massacre: Hundreds of Monarch Butterflies Die After Aerial Mosquito Spraying in North Dakota

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2020) It’s being called the Monarch Massacre—hundreds of monarch butterflies found dead after the Vector Control Department of Cass County, North Dakota aerially sprayed the county for mosquito control. This incident occurred during a moment in history that is seeing monarchs at the edge of extinction, with the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico having declined 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. This tragedy happened as the nation and the world are experiencing an insect apocalypse and severe biodiversity decline, threatening the web of life. (See Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues.) While it is critical that steps be taken by communities nationwide to protect their local ecology, the incident generated a response from Cass County that claims that the insecticides used are “the lowest toxicity products on the market for mosquito control,” and points to the “monarch migration [that] is a sporadic event that unfortunately occurred during the latest adult mosquito control application.”  The County justifies the spraying because of nuisance mosquitoes and a finding in the “surrounding communities” of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus (WNv). In its Facebook statement, the County […]

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Take Action: Tell Lowe’s and Home Depot to Promote Organic Instead of Poisons

Monday, August 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 17, 2020) Once numbering in the millions, barely 29,000 western monarch butterflies were found in California at last count. Pesticides pack a one-two punch against monarchs. Insecticides—particularly neonicotinoids—poison the caterpillars and butterflies as they feed. Glyphosate—the active ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup® — is wiping out milkweed, the only food source for monarch caterpillars. This has contributed to monarchs’ 90% decline in the past 20 years alone. They could vanish within our lifetimes. Home and garden stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot can play a huge role in ending the use of this toxic pesticide in our backyards and across the country. Already, Lowe’s is removing neonicotinoid products from its live plant offerings and store shelves, and Home Depot is eliminating use of neonicotinoids in its live plant offerings. They could stop selling Roundup®. More importantly, they could encourage organic practices through their product offerings and consumer education. Ask Home Depot and Lowe’s to get Roundup® off their shelves and promote and educate on organic! Companies like Lowe’s and Home Depot could be leaders by removing products containing glyphosate/Roundup® from their physical stores and online—following the example of their competitor, Costco. This would send a powerful message to Bayer […]

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

Friday, June 12th, 2020

(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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One Quarter of Global Insect Population Lost Since 1990

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

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

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

(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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Farmworkers and Conservationists Sue EPA for Re-Approving Monsanto/Bayer’s Cancer-Causing Pesticide, Glyphosate/Roundup

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2020) Ignoring science to side with Monsanto/Bayer, EPA has repeatedly failed to assess glyphosate’s impacts on public health and endangered species. Last week, a broad coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists, filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its January 2020 re-approval of the pesticide glyphosate, best known as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides. With Center for Food Safety (CFS) serving as legal counsel, the suing organizations are  Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida. While EPA defends glyphosate, juries in several cases have found it to cause cancer, ruling in favor of those impacted by exposure. Glyphosate formulations like Roundup are also well-established as having numerous damaging environmental impacts. After a registration review process spanning over a decade, EPA allowed the continued marketing of the pesticide despite the agency’s failure to fully assess glyphosate’s hormone-disrupting potential or its effects on threatened and endangered species. The review began in 2009, has already taken 11 years, without a full assessment of the widespread harmful impacts on people and the environment in that time period. “EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the […]

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

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

(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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Youth Ask Public to Join the Global Climate Strike September 20-27

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2019) This September, adults will join in a global climate strike spurred by the Fridays for Future school climate strike movement. Environmentalists around the world are galvanizing the public to participate in youth-led disruption in order to bring attention to the climate crisis. U.S. strike demands include a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. The strike will kick off on Friday, September 20 and actions will continue until the next Friday, September 27. Fridays for Future started when then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began striking in 2018 in front of the Riksdag – the Swedish parliament. She was inspired by U.S. teens who refused to go back to school and instead organized a massive national protest for gun control after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Ms. Thunberg gained publicity and captured a global audience with her clear voice and piercing castigation of adults in power who, “are sh–ting on my future.” Ms. Thunberg has, among other diagnoses, Asperger Syndrome. She attributes her ability to articulate the climate crisis to her capacity to think differently and see things in “black and white.” In an interview with TIME Magazine, she stated, “The climate crisis […]

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Same Pesticides that are Killing Bees Significantly Shorten Monarch Lifespan

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2019) Monarch populations on both coasts of North America are in serious decline, and new research indicates that same chemicals killing bees may be responsible for similar impacts to these charismatic butterflies.  Published in the journal Insects by Washington State University researcher David James, PhD, the study is the first to investigate how adult monarchs react to chronic, low dose exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. Many are calling the decline of pollinators and other insect species a form of apocalypse and mass extinction. What’s happening with insects must be considered a warning for species higher up in the food chain; it’s therefore critical that our observations of the natural world lead to corrective action before it’s too late. Monarchs in the study were reared from untreated milkweed plants in Washington State in 2018, totaling 40 adult butterflies. Eleven males and the same number of females were assigned to be treated with the insecticide, while the remaining butterflies acted as a control. Both groups were provided a sugar solution, with the treated group’s solution containing 23.5 parts per billion imidacloprid, a dose similar to what a butterfly could encounter in a real world scenario. Monarchs that […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agriculture Contributes to Severe Monarch Butterfly Decline through Milkweed Contamination

Monday, July 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019) Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor — exposure during monarchs’ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research team’s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, “Although seed treatment data are no longer reported for U.S. […]

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Industrial Agriculture Practices Contribute to the Insect Apocalypse

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

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

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

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

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

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Take Action: Ask the Largest Food Retailer to Lead the Way and Stop Selling Food Grown with Pesticides

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2019) Breakfast cereal, apples, applesauce and pinto beans made and sold by Kroger contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of series health and environmental problems, according to a residue study by Friends of the Earth. This is alarming. Kid-friendly food like applesauce and Cheerios should not contain dangerous pesticides. Kids are the most vulnerable to these pesticides and shouldn’t be exposed to brain-damaging or cancer-causing pesticides when they eat their breakfast or snacks. The connection between pesticides and cancer, learning disabilities, and other diseases is supported by hundreds of studies in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. These new tests, which corroborate numerous residue studies, mean that Kroger customers may be purchasing food with the intent of providing safe and healthy food for their families, but end up unknowingly exposing them to toxic pesticides. Join the national week of action by either delivering a letter to Kroger in person, or sending an email to Kroger Chief Executive Rodney McMullen. The pesticides found in Kroger’s food are harmful to human health and pollinators. Friends of the Earth found residues of cancer-causing glyphosate, brain-damaging organophosphates, and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Organophosphates can cause damage to children’s developing brains, including reduced IQ, loss […]

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Western Monarchs Experience Catastrophic Declines Over the Last Year

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

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

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