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Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

Friday, May 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2021) Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life — as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration — depend. A recent meta-review of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. In their paper, “Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types . . . [These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil ecosystems.” Beyond Pesticides, which has long reported on impacts of pesticides on soil health, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of  regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The term “pesticide” can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments — including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others — but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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Breakdown Products (Metabolites) from Pesticides May Be More Toxic than Parent Compound, Study Finds

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2021) Nearly half of all breakdown products (transformation products) from four common-use environmental pesticides produce stronger endocrine (hormone) disrupting (ED) effects than the parent compound, according to new research published in Environment International. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts—from chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products—are commonly present in water bodies, food commodities, and human blood/urine samples. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, producing endocrine-disrupting effects that put the health of animals, humans, and the environment at risk. Many ecological and health risk assessments for pesticides focus on the effects of parent chemical compound products, overlooking the potential impacts of transformation products (TPs). Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of TPs to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. The researchers note, “Since an increasing number of pesticide TPs have been detected in various environmental media, a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological risk of pesticide TPs is imperative for risk assessments more extensively and regulatory policy-making on pesticide restriction in the future.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem), including pesticides, bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals. Past research demonstrates exposure […]

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Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Sustainable Agriculture Do Not Mix!

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2021) Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are incompatible with sustainable agriculture goals, according to a recent scientific literature analysis by scientists at Tufts University, Massachusetts. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, including Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) RoundupTM. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. However, studies demonstrate glyphosate is the main contributor to human, biotic, and ecosystem harms as toxicities from herbicides are now double what it was in 2004.  The National Academy of Sciences identifies four goals of sustainable agriculture—productivity, economics, environment, and social well-being for future generations. However, pesticides like glyphosate are ubiquitous in the environment, putting the health, economy, and food/resources for future generations at risk. Therefore, research like this is vital for understanding how chemical use can undermine sustainable agriculture goals to protect humans, animals, and environmental health. Researchers note, “[W]hether or not GBHs are viewed as essential or unessential to contemporary agriculture, and notwithstanding their role in non-tillage agriculture, this study shows that glyphosate-based herbicides do not reach the bar of agricultural sustainability, with respect to humans and the environment, making the system they are part of unsustainable.” Researchers thoroughly examined […]

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Florida Officials Put a Stop to Trump Era Proposal to Spray Highly Toxic Insecticide in Citrus Groves

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2021) The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is denying a chemical company’s application to use a highly toxic insecticide on the state’s citrus crops due to the risks the chemical poses to human health and the environment, according to a statement from FDACS released last week. At issue is aldicarb, a carbamate class insecticide that was cancelled in the U.S. over a decade ago. “While there are promising new horizons for fighting citrus greening, like recent breakthroughs at UF/IFAS on genetic resistance, aldicarb poses an unacceptable risk to human, animal, and environmental health in Florida, is one of the world’s most toxic pesticides, and is banned in more than 100 countries,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “The registrant’s application does not meet the requirements of state law, and we must therefore deny the registration of aldicarb for use in the State of Florida.” At the end of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took “aggressive actions” by announcing it was registering aldicarb and the antibiotic streptomycin for use against citrus greening, a disease that is damaging Florida’s citrus industry. The registration provided for a supplemental label allowing use on […]

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New York City Council Passes Landmark Law Eliminating the Use of Toxic Pesticides in City Parks and Playgrounds, Stipulates List of Allowed Materials

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

It all started with New York City public school teacher Paula Rogovin and her kindergarten class. They went down to city call, wrote letters, shared artwork, and got the attention of Council Member Ben Kallos, who sponsored reform legislation. (Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2021) Yesterday, on Earth Day, the New York City Council passed landmark legislation to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides in parks and playgrounds. This new law eliminates the use of toxic pesticides, like glyphosate/Roundup, codifying a ban on pesticides with an allowance for only those permitted under federal organic standards. A few hours before passage of the bill, Intro. 1524 (see detailed factsheet below), the measure’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos, and the Speaker of the Council, Corey Johnson,  were joined at a press conference by: Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute; those who began the movement for the legislation, retired teacher Paula Rogovin and some of her fomer students from Public School (PS) 290 in Manhattan; Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides; and, Patti and Doug  Wood, executive director and program director, respectively, of Grassroots Environmental Education. “Parks should be for playing not pesticides,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “All families should be […]

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Roundup Shown to Kill Bees—But Not How You Might Expect

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2021) Roundup products manufactured by Bayer-Monsanto kill exposed bumblebees at high rates, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, which points to undisclosed inert ingredients (those that typically make up a majority of the product formulation) as the primary culprit. Roundup products have become synonymous with their main active ingredient glyphosate, but Bayer-Monsanto has been quietly reformulating its flagship product with different herbicides in a likely attempt to rebrand as glyphosate cancer lawsuits drag down the company’s performance. The new study reveals that these new Roundup products present the same hazards to pollinators as glyphosate-based formulations, raising important questions about the pesticide regulatory process. Researchers based at Royal Holloway University of London, UK conducted the present study to better understand the hazards posed by herbicides often characterized as “bee safe” to the public. To do so, 10 healthy bumblebee (Bombus spp) colonies were retained, split into small groups, and sprayed with a particular herbicide. Four different herbicide products were employed, including: i) Fast Action RoundupÂŽ Ready‐To‐Use (containing glyphosate); ii) RoundupÂŽ Speed Ultra (containing acetic acid and no glyphosate); iii) WeedolÂŽ Gun! Rootkill Plus (containing glyphosate) and; iv) RoundupÂŽ ProActive (contains glyphosate […]

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Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

Friday, April 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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“No Pollinator is Safe” — New Evidence of Neonicotinoids Harming Wild, Ground Nesting Bees

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2021) A new study is making it increasingly clear that current laws are not protecting wild, ground nesting bees from the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides. According to research conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osima spp) are at particular risk from pesticide-contaminated soil they use to create their nest. Authors of the study note that with honey bees already in decline, pollination services provided wild managed bees like Mason bees are growing in importance. “Wild bees such as Osmia are becoming increasingly popular as managed pollinators in many systems, as there is growing concern that honeybees may not be able to continue to meet the increasing demands of agricultural pollination if these trends continue,” the study reads. The study looked at three overarching threats to mason bee populations, aiming to identify risks from pesticide contaminated soil used as a nest, effects on larvae exposed to contaminated soil, and whether female mason bees could determine the difference between contaminated and uncontaminated soil. “Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees,” said Christine Fortuin, PhD, […]

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Take More Effective Action! Share Your Challenges & Successes. Hear from Top Cutting-Edge Scientists & Advocates. Sign-Up for the Forum.

Monday, April 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2021) Are you a regular National Pesticide Forum attendee? Have you always wanted to attend, but couldn’t afford the time and money? Are you new to the pesticide issue and want the best introduction, from Pesticides 101 to deep science? Do you want to meet with others who are taking their communities to natural organic land management? Do you want to meet with people doing amazing work across the country who are fighting the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and environmental injustice. This is your chance! This year’s Forum is taking place virtually and will be held over four weeks, one day a week, May 25, June 1, 8, and 15. Plus, there’s a special pre-conference session Pesticide Literacy 101: Truth & Advertising on May 24. What’s more, we have registration options for all budgets. Take Action: Sign-Up for the Forum and join with others across the country and around the world for a toxic-free future – confronting health threats, climate disasters, and biodiversity collapse. See you there! What’s it all about? Scientific understanding. Collective action. Systemic change. A toxic-free future. Organic transition. The serious and existential environmental and health challenges that we face bring an urgency to the focus […]

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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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Toxic Pesticides Are Polluting Over Half of Arable Land, Reinforcing Need for Global Organic Transition

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2021) Toxic pesticides are putting more than half of the Earth’s farmland at risk of pesticide pollution that contaminates water, harms biodiversity, and ultimately undermines food security, according to research published in Nature Geosciences last month.  While there is firm understanding that environmental crises like climate change are affecting the entire globe, the impacts of pesticide pollution are often thought of as local, or regional issues. This study, led by researchers based at the University of Sydney, Australia, underscores the wide-ranging effects of modern civilization’s global dependence on toxic pesticide use. “Although protecting food production is essential for human development, reducing pesticide pollution is equivalently crucial to protect the biodiversity that maintains soil health and functions, contributing towards food security,” said lead study author Fiona Tang, PhD. To better understand pesticide risks at a global scale, scientists sectioned a world map into 10×10 kilometer (6.2×6.2 mile) squares that were assessed for their pesticide risk. The map also included data relating to water scarcity, biodiversity, and national income, to better determine trends and hot spots of concern. Scientists evaluated 92 different pesticide active ingredients and determined their risk within each square on the map based upon information […]

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Suspension of Deadly Insecticide Use and Transition to Organic Needed to Save Hummingbirds

Monday, March 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2021) New data on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides calls for urgent regulatory action. The same pesticides that are linked to the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Widely known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating up to 80 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. Tell EPA and Congress to save the hummingbirds by suspending use of neonicotinoid insecticides and supporting the transition to organic practices. While hovering, a hummingbird consumes calories faster than any other bird or mammal. That’s why the finding that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid slows metabolism up to 25% is so disturbing. Systemic pesticides like imidacloprid and other neonics are transported throughout the plant, including nectar. Findings on the danger neonicotinoids pose to hummingbirds decades after the chemicals were first permitted to be used in the environment, and by independent scientists, not regulatory agencies, is indicative of a regulatory approach that fails […]

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Kenyan Farmers Are Resorting to Hand Pollination After Pesticide Use Kills Off Local Pollinators

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2021) The worst predictions of scientists and advocates are playing out in the fields of eastern Kenya, as chemical-intensive farming there threatens the future of food production. According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Kenyan farmers have resorted to pollinating their crops by hand after pesticide use killed off most of the pollinators they rely on. “We are mostly affected by pesticides because they have killed most pollinators which pollinate our crops—this has affected our food production compared to previous years,” said Joseph Mbithi, a farmer in Mbakoni village, Makueni County, Kenya to RFI. Crop yields in the region have tapered off over the last two years, and farmers like Mr. Mbithi are pointing to pesticide use as the cause, citing past reliance on the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and the organophosphate insecticide malathion. “Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are not around due to chemicals which we spray in our farms,” he told RFI.   As a result, farmers are using toothbrushes and sponges as a substitute for the buzzing work of local pollinators. And it’s more complicated than one may think. ‘’The flowers are different in shape and are different in sizes. The male one is […]

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Minnesota Deer Threatened by Ubiquitous Neonicotinoid Contamination, According to Study

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2021) Deer populations throughout the state of Minnesota are contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, according to preliminary results published earlier this month by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Although neonicotinoids are mostly known for contributing to the decline of pollinator populations, like most pesticides brought to market with approval of an inadequate U.S. regulatory review process, there are considerable uncertainties on its impacts after it is released into the environment. As scientists continue to discover novel harms from the use of these systemic insecticides, advocates say it becomes increasingly important to eliminate their use, and take preventive, precautionary measures to ensure similar patterns do not emerge in the future. MDNR launched its testing project on the state’s deer population in Fall 2019, after a study published by researchers at South Dakota State University found harmful impacts on white-tail deer. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid was found to reduce the body weight and metabolism of white tailed deer and increase the rate of birth defects and mortality in fawns. The state asked deer hunters to send them the spleens they harvested from wild deer. “We wanted to know if wild deer in natural settings are being exposed to neonics and […]

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Tell EPA to Stop the Sale of Seresto Flea Collars Documented to Kill 1,700 Dogs and Cats; Harmful to Children

Monday, March 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2021) In the face of 1,700 pet deaths linked to Seresto’s flea and tick collar—as reported March 2, 2021 by USA Today, based on EPA records—EPA has taken no action. This unconscionable inaction is defended by an EPA spokesperson who told the media that, despite these incidents, the agency has deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data. . . . No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Seresto is developed by Bayer and sold by Elanco. Tell EPA and Members of Congress to take responsible and immediate action to stop the death of dogs and cats by stopping the sale of Seresto flea collars. Beyond Pesticides is calling on EPA to recognize, finally, that the label on flea collars is not adequately protective, as evidenced by the number of deaths and 75,000 incidents. “EPA has the authority to act now, and it should use its powers to protect the health and lives of pets,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “EPA should act on the deaths immediately, not wait for further study, just […]

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Despite 1,700 Dog and Cat Deaths from Flea Collars, EPA Silent; Children at Risk

Friday, March 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2021) Pet owners will be alarmed to read the report, by USA Today, that a popular flea and tick collar — Seresto, developed by Bayer and sold by Elanco — has been linked to nearly 1,700 pet deaths, injuries to tens of thousands of animals, and harm to hundreds of people. At the time of publication, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides, had issued no informational alert to let the public know about these risks to pets — despite many hundreds of incident reports in its Office of Pesticide Programs Incident Report database. Beyond Pesticides and other advocates have warned of the toxicity of pet pesticide treatments, not only to the animals themselves, but also, to children and other household members. There are nontoxic ways to protect pets from fleas and other pests, and to protect human family members at the same time. Beyond Pesticides is calling on EPA to recognize, finally, that the label on flea collars is not adequately protective, as evidenced by the number of deaths and 75,000 incidents. “EPA has the authority to act now, and it should use its powers to protect the health and lives of pets,” […]

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Massachusetts Regulators Restrict Consumer Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2021) Earlier this week, pesticide regulators in the commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to restrict outdoor consumer uses of neonicotinoid insecticides. The move is the result of sustained advocacy from broad coalition of individuals and organizations focused on protecting pollinators and ecosystem health. While advocates are pleased that the Pesticide Board Subcommittee made Massachusetts the first state in the country to restrict neonicotinoids through a regulatory process, they note this is only the first step in eliminating these hazardous insecticides. “This marks an incremental victory which took us 6 years to land, and it only happened because of immense, ongoing grassroots action and legislative allies who are willing to hold state regulators accountable,” said Martin Dagoberto, Policy Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter in a press release. “We still have a monumental endeavor ahead if we are to reduce toxins and rein in the toxic influence of the chemical lobby,” Mr. Dagoberto added. Advocates had been pushing the legislature to pass An Act to protect Massachusetts Pollinators, sponsored by pollinator champion Representative Carolyn Dykema, since 2014. Following several failures by state lawmakers to bring the bill over the finish line, efforts in 2019 resulted […]

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Solitary Wild Bees Harmed by Neonicotinoid Pesticides Applied by Soil Drenching

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2021) Populations of solitary ground nesting bees decline after exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides, according to a study published in Scientific Reports late last month. In addition to ground-nesting bees, neonicotinoids have been shown to harm butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, aquatic species and mammals, including humans. As independent science continues to look beyond the effects of these systemic chemicals on honey and bumblebees, advocates maintain that it has become increasingly clear that the high hazards presented by neonicotinoids necessitate their complete elimination. “Farmers need to protect their crops from pests, but they also absolutely need to protect pollinators from the unintended effects of pesticides,” said study coauthor Susan Willis Chan, PhD. “The data on this particular [neonicotinoid] product are so clear that there’s really no question about what has to happen. We have to find something else.” Researchers focused their effort investigating how various systemic pesticides effect the hoary squash bee (Eucera pruinosa), a ground nesting bee found throughout North America that feeds entirely on pollen from cucurbits (including squash, cucumber, pumpkin, gourds, etc). The hoary squash bee provides essential pollinator services for these crops throughout the U.S. and Canada. Neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides are often applied […]

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

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

(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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Herbicide Use in “Regenerative” No-Till Contaminates Waterbodies

Friday, February 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2021) Governments and policy makers are feeling a lot of pressure to mount effective responses to the climate crisis and to extraordinary levels of pollution in our environment. Tackling any one problem without precautionary attention to potential consequences of a solution — before it is enacted — is the opposite of the holistic understandings and strategies needed to solve environmental crises. Piecemeal approaches often generate unintended consequences. To wit: Vermont Public Radio (VPR) reports on revelations from a retired state scientist, Nat Shambaugh, who finds that farmers’ efforts to reduce agricultural runoff from fields into waterbodies, by planting cover crops, has resulted in significant increases in the use of herbicides to kill off those crops. So as one kind of pollution is reduced, another has become intensified. In Vermont and elsewhere, there has been much attention paid to nutrient pollution of waterbodies and waterways from agricultural runoff, largely because phosphorous and nitrates from fertilizers lead to contaminated drinking water, as well as to blooms of algae (some of which have their own toxic byproducts) and hypoxic dead zones in water bodies. The most notorious of these dead zones in North America are at the mouth of […]

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Groups Urge Endangered Species Listing for American Bumblebee after 89% Population Decline

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2021) Pollinator advocates are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act. The petitioners are the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity. Like many other wild pollinators, the American bumblebee has undergone dramatic reductions in recent decades. According to petitioners, the last 20 years saw an 89% decline in the pollinator’s population. Declines of the American bumblebee have occurred throughout its range, which encompasses 47 of the lower 48 states. However, there are also particularly hard hit regions. In New York, for instance, the pollinators have experienced a stunning 99% decline in relative abundance. Midwestern populations are also severely affected. Losses have followed in lock step with declines in the rusty patched bumblebee, which was listed as endangered in 2017. While the rusty patched has lost 90% of its midwestern range, the American bumblebee has experienced 83% declines. The petitioners note that the American bumblebee declined across a larger land area, and in several states where it was once the most populous pollinator. The causes behind these catastrophic declines are familiar to many pollinator […]

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Millions of People Poisoned by Pesticides Each Year, Underscoring Need for Organic Transition

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2021) Hundreds of millions of people are being injured by pesticides every year, according to the first global estimate of unintentional human pesticide poisoning released in three decades. The systematic review, published in BMC Public Health highlights the grave result of modern civilization’s reliance on toxic chemicals to manage weeds and other pests. While international agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) endorse the phase out of highly hazardous pesticides, advocates say that goal should be the starting point in a broader paradigm shift to global organic production. To determine the extent of unintentional poisonings, researchers reviewed scientific literature published between 2006 and 2018, including 157 publications and World Health Organization databases. The search ultimately covered 141 countries. Of these, 740,000 cases of unintentional poisoning were found, with roughly 7,500 resulting in death. Extrapolating that data, scientists estimate 385 million unintentional poisonings worldwide, including 11,000 fatalities. That number encompasses an astounding 44% of the entire global farming population of 860 million. The authors note the importance of understanding the impact of pesticide poisonings that injure, but do not kill. “There is a need to recognize the high burden of non-fatal UAPP, particularly on farmers and […]

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