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U.S. House Passes Bill that Supports EPA’s Pesticide Regulatory Program

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2017) The U.S.  House of Representatives voted last week to pass H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017 (PREA), reauthorizing the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003 (PRIA) under the nation’s pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). When passed in 2003, PRIA established the legal authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect fees from pesticide makers for safety reviews and market approval. Over time, PRIA has been supported by pesticide manufacturers that are seeking approval for pesticide products, and public health and environmental groups seeking rigorous review and restriction of pesticides to protect human health and the environment. In a time of great uncertainty for the future of EPA, given proposed large-scale budget cuts, swift passage of H.R. 1029 with bipartisan support may signal acknowledgement by Congress that EPA performs a regulatory function that all sides agree is necessary, even though there is rarely agreement on the positions that the agency may take. Proposed reductions in EPA staff speak to the idiosyncrasies inherent in the Trump administration’s promise to reduce regulatory burdens while simultaneously making sweeping cuts to agency staff. E&E News points out that Trump’s plan to […]

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Environmental and Farm Groups Challenge Toxic Pesticides Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2017) Today, a coalition of farmers and environmental and public health organizations filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving agrochemical giant Dow Chemical’s toxic pesticide combo, Enlist Duo, among the newer more highly toxic pesticide mixtures used in genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops. Comprised of glyphosate and 2,4-D (50% of the mixture in the warfare defoliant Agent Orange), Enlist Duo is typically marketed alongside commercial crops like corn, cotton and soybeans that are engineered to withstand pesticide exposure, leading to problems of resistance and driving the evolution of super weeds. This is the third lawsuit challenging EPA approval of Enlist Duo by petitioners, which include Beyond Pesticides, National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. The lawsuit charges that approval of Enlist Duo “will lead to sharply increased spraying of toxic pesticides, harming farmers, neighboring crops, and wildlife.” Specifically farmers’ health and financial positions stand to be heavily impacted by the approval of Enlist Duo, as increased use will result in increased pesticide drift, an alarming concern especially […]

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Groups File Federal Lawsuit Against Registration of Herbicide Dicamba, Used in Genetically Engineered Crops

Friday, January 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2016) Last week, farmers, environmentalists, and conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a new formulation of the toxic herbicide dicamba. The new formulation is called Xtendimax with Vapor Grip Technology, which is claimed to have lower volatility. The petitioners claim that EPA violated its duties under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in issuing a conditional registration, and that it did not adhere to duties under the Endangered Species Act that require EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure registration would not harm any listed species. The organizations involved in the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety. Dicamba has caused a lot of controversy in the past. In August 2016, farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee confronted widespread crop damage and braced for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched roll-out of GE soybean and cotton crops. The company, whose current line of glyphosate-tolerant crops are failing to control weeds throughout […]

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EPA Registers Dicamba for GE Crops, Adding to Growing Herbicide Resistance Issue

Friday, November 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered a new formulation of dicamba to control weeds in cotton and soybean crops that have been genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate the chemical. The new formulation is called Xtendimax with VaporGripâ Technology, which is claimed to be specifically designed to have lower volatility. The registration, which is time-limited, will automatically expire after two years. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, EPA ignored the legal requirement to explore threats to endangered species, approving this new formulation without considering impacts to species protected under the Endangered Species Act. This decision comes directly after EPA announced that it is reapproving the toxic herbicide mixture Enlist Duo, and proposed to expand the number of crops and states in which it can be used. Dicamba has been linked to damage of the kidney and liver, neurotoxicity, and developmental impacts. The chemical has a strong propensity to volatilize small particles of the herbicide into the air and drift far off-site. Sensitive crop species can be damaged by dicamba at levels in the parts per million.  A study published by Pennsylvania State scientists in late 2015 found dicamba drift was “frequently responsible for […]

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EPA Review Keeps Bee-Toxic Pesticide Sulfoxaflor on the Market with Limited Restrictions

Monday, October 17th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed its plan last Friday to register the toxic chemical sulfoxaflor, in the face of  overwhelming evidence that it negatively affects bee populations. This decision is the final result of a long-fought legal battle over the chemical’s registration, spearheaded by beekeepers and public health organizations concerned with what has been identified as EPA’s inadequate and flawed pesticide review processes. The agency claims that amendments made to the original registration, such as reducing the number  of crops for which use is permitted or only allowing post-bloom applications, will protect pollinators. However, scientific studies have shown that there is no way to fully limit exposure to bees, especially native species that exist naturally in the environment, given that the chemical, being systemic, is found in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets. Given the evidence of harm related to sulfoxaflor’s use, as well as its demonstrated lack of need, advocates maintain that the agency’s decision to issue an amended registration violates its  duty to protect human health and the environment. Sulfoxaflor’s initial 2013 registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to […]

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Make Your Voice Heard to Protect Organic Integrity!

Friday, September 30th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2016) Stand up for organic! The public comment period has opened on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) proposed recommendations affecting  organic standards, materials and policy. The fall 2016 meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 26, 2016. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Make your voice heard before the comment period closes. We’ve made tremendous progress in creating an organic food production system. Let’s not let USDA turn back the clock. Beyond Pesticides has  begun to analyze the numerous recommendations and are providing you  with our positions that we hope you will use as the basis for your comments. We will provide positions on additional topics in the near future. Please feel free to develop your own comments or cut and paste ours. If you cut and paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance if these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer or other concerned party. Some of the major issues before the fall 2016 National Organic Standards Board include: Chlorine Dioxide Gas: Beyond Pesticides is appalled that the […]

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Bayer Loses Appeal of EPA’s Ban of Insecticide Flubendiamide that Kills Wildlife, Distributors Allowed to Sell Off Inventory

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2016) The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has upheld an earlier ruling by EPA’s chief administrative law judge, Susan Biro, to cancel sales of the conditionally registered insecticide flubendiamide, produced by Bayer CropScience, which was conclusively found  to be highly toxic to freshwater wildlife after EPA allowed its use on 200 crops. The situation has left many questioning why the agency did not wait to register the product until it had complete data. The EAB disagreed with the Office of Pesticide Programs  and Judge Biro’s decision regarding existing stocks of the insecticide product, and ruled that farmers and other users, retailers, and distributors (not the manufacturers) will be allowed to use and sell existing supplies of the chemical. This controversy points to what health and environmental advocates cite as a fundamental flaw  in EPA’s pesticide registration review —the agency’s conditional pesticide registration process, which allows toxic pesticides  on the market without a complete and comprehensive assessment  of their  potential  harm””in this case to  wildlife and the vital ecosystem services they provide. Despite its agreement with EPA, Bayer said in March it would fight the EPA decision, which it appealed to the EAB. But, […]

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EPA Judge Rejects Bayer’s Challenge to Keep Flubendiamide on Market after Agency Pulls Conditional Registration

Monday, June 6th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2016) Bayer CropScience’s appeal of the cancellation of their toxic pesticide flubendiamide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was rejected by EPA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Susan Biro on Thursday, June 1. Judge Biro dismissed the complaints, saying that the agency was acting within its authority when it pulled its approval for the pesticide earlier this year after the two manufacturers, Bayer CropScience and Nichino America, failed to meet the terms laid out in a 2008 conditional registration. A startling number of pesticides, nearly 65% of the more than 16,000 pesticides now on the market, were first approved by the process of “conditional registration,” a loophole in which EPA allows new pesticides on the market without the full range of legally mandated toxicity tests for a full registration. Meanwhile, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency finalized its  decision to discontinue granting new conditional registrations, also on June 1. In 2008, EPA granted Bayer a “conditional” registration for flubendiamide, a classification that allows a new pesticide to be registered and used in the field, despite outstanding data points on its toxicological impact. In this case, original data submitted to EPA by Bayer showed concern over […]

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Public Comment Needed on EPA’s Plans To Allow Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor despite Elevated Bee Losses

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2016) Despite recent reports of continuing bee losses across the U.S., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to reevaluate the use of the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor, and is proposing an amended registration. Sulfoxaflor’s initial 2013 registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and EPA’s inadequate review of the data. Last September, the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally rejected  EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor. The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide may  have on honey bee colonies. The Court vacated EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, meaning that sulfoxaflor could no longer be used in the U.S. This decision was in response to a suit filed by beekeepers challenging EPA’s initial registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited the insecticide’s threat to bees and beekeeping. The case:  Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, Thomas Smith, Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson v. U.S. EPA  (9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,”¯No. 13-7234) According to the court decision, EPA skirted its own regulations […]

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Antioch College and UMD Pledge to Protect Pollinators

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2016) This week, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio,  became the third university to become a neonicotinoid-free campus.  Antioch College gains recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s  BEE Protective  Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the  BEE Protective  resolution, Antioch signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. In addition to joining the Bee Protective Campaign, the Village of Yellow Springs, where Antioch is located,  is  considering an organic land care policy, and Beyond Pesticides is working with the Village to assist with a transition to organic turf care. “At Antioch College, we have an opportunity, and an urgency, to be change leaders in turning around pollinator decline, exposing misleading research and recognizing the importance of inter-species cooperation. To paraphrase our president Thomas Manley, ”˜If we are not leaders in discovering and implementing  new and better ways of living  , then what is the point?’” said Beth Bridgeman, the faculty member who drove the effort to ban neonicotinoids from campus. Antioch students and staff maintain about […]

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Villanova Pivots to Neonic-Free, Joins Bee Protective Campaign

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides April 6, 2016) Hot off the heels of the NCAA basketball tournament, a national title is not the only thing Villanova University has to celebrate this week. The campus, located near Philadelphia, PA, recently became the second school in the nation to receive recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the BEE Protective pledge, Villanova signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. “For Villanova, sustainability is not just about energy and recycling,” said Liesel Schwarz, Villanova’s Sustainability Manager. “We look to make all aspects of campus life sustainable, including how we treat our campus grounds. This recognition only further solidifies the wonderful work our grounds department has done to not only make the campus beautiful and inviting for people, but also for pollinators.” Villanova maintains more than fifty pollinator-friendly plants on campus, including aster, black-eyed Susans, milkweed and mint. Along with planting pollinator-friendly habitat, the elimination of neonicotinoid pesticides on campus is an exemplary move by Villanova to protect pollinators. […]

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GAO Report Finds USDA, EPA Not Doing Enough to Protect Pollinators

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2016) Executive agencies are falling short in their efforts to protect honey bees and other wild pollinators from catastrophic declines, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO, an investigative agency that works on behalf of the U.S. Congress, was tasked by the Senate to evaluate the progress the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have made in their actions to address the multiple threats contributing to declining managed and wild pollinators. Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have experienced unsustainable colony die-offs, averaging over 30% each year. Concurrent declines in wild and native pollinators are also occurring, though data on the magnitude of these losses have not undergone comprehensive scientific evaluation. While a range of factors, from habitat loss, to climate change, diseases, viruses, and parasites are all contributing to these declines, independent science has identified that pesticides, specifically a new class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, are the major drivers of the crisis for both managed and wild bees. In fact, some studies show that the widespread exposure to neonicotinoids increases bees’ vulnerability to diseases, viruses, and mites. The GAO report recommends a number of action items […]

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EPA Moves to Cancel Toxic Pesticide It Allowed without Complete Review, Manufacturer, Bayer, Reneges on Agreement to Take Product Off Market

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

(Washington, DC, March 1, 2016) After pesticide manufacturer Bayer CropScience would not voluntarily remove from the market the insecticide flubendiamide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally issued a Notice of Intent to Cancel the insecticide, citing its high toxicity to aquatic organisms. Bayer is embroiled in controversy over its neonicotinoid insecticides because, as systemic pesticides, they move through the entire plant and express the poison through pollen and nectar, indiscriminately killing bees and other pollinators and polluting waterways. Flubendiamide, a benzenedicarboxamide pesticide, is “locally systemic” within the plant’s leaves. EPA’s action today may take years of regulatory review and legal action while the pesticide remains on the market. EPA used the controversial conditional registration provision of federal pesticide law, when in 2008 it allowed flubendiamide on the market, despite outstanding environmental data. At the time, it struck an agreement that, if unreasonable adverse effects on the environment were found, Bayer would withdraw the chemical’s registration. Today’s action serves to exemplify the consequences of allowing potentially harmful substances onto the market without all the information necessary to issue a complete finding of environmental and public safety. Because of EPA’s long cancellation process, unless it takes the rare action of finding […]

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Bayer Refuses to Cancel Insecticide Toxic to Aquatic Life

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2016) Last week, Bayer CropScience reneged on an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the conditionally registered insecticide flubendiamide if  the agency  received  data that  identified adverse ecological effects. Based on the data, EPA found that the chemical causes “unreasonable adverse effects” to benthic organisms living in sediment near agricultural fields. Bayer’s defiance in the face of EPA’s finding  points to  a fundamental  weakness in  the agency’s conditional pesticide registration process, which allows toxic chemicals onto the market without a complete and comprehensive assessment  of their  potential  harm, in this case to  wildlife and the vital ecosystem services they provide. In 2008, EPA granted Bayer a “conditional” registration for flubendiamide, a classification that allows a new pesticide to be registered and used in the field, despite outstanding data points on its toxicological impact. In this case, original data submitted to EPA by Bayer showed concern over the effect of the chemical and its breakdown product on freshwater benthic invertebrates, species such as crustaceans and aquatic insects that  live in stream sediment and provide important ecosystem services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. In response, rather than declining to proceed with registration […]

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Canada Discontinues Conditional Registrations For New Pesticides

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2016) The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada announced Tuesday that it intends to discontinue the granting of new conditional registrations under the Pest Control Products Act. In the U.S., conditional registrations have been controversial because they allow pesticide use  without complete data, as was the case with the neonicotinoid insecticide chlothianidin, linked to the decline in bee health. A startling number of pesticides, nearly 65% of the more than 16,000 pesticides now on the market, were first approved by the process of “conditional registration,” a loophole in which EPA allows new pesticides on the market without the full range of legally mandated toxicity tests.   Currently, the Pest Control Products Regulations grants conditional registration for pesticides only when “the review of the scientific data and information is sufficient to determine that the risks of a pesticide are acceptable, but PMRA requires additional information, such as monitoring data after a product registration, to confirm the results of models used in the risk assessment.” Because this change will only affect new registration applications and less than  one percent of all existing pesticide registrations in Canada are conditional, this action is unlikely to have a large […]

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EPA Continues Trend of Pesticide Approval without Adequate Review

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2015) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted a formal notice last week for intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving benzovindiflupyr, a fungicide that is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. CBD asserts that EPA recognized that benzovindiflupyr could harm wildlife and critical habitat protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but approved it for use without consulting with expert wildlife agencies as required by the act. This is  not the first time that EPA has approved toxic chemicals without fully understanding the consequences. On August 28, 2015, EPA granted broad approval for use of benzovindiflupyr on most crops, including cereals, corn, vegetables, fruits, turf grass and ornamentals. The agency’s own data show that benzovindiflupyr is highly persistent in the environment and will build up in waterways due to runoff from treated fields. Nonetheless, EPA approved benzovindiflupyr for immediate use. “This pesticide is highly poisonous to fish and other wildlife, but the EPA approved it anyway,” said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in their press release. “This agency’s cavalier approach to approving new toxic chemicals without required consultation or studies must end. The EPA’s indifference is […]

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Lawsuit Seeks to Stop Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticide Sulfoxaflor in EU

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2015) On the heels of a recent federal court decision that rejected the U.S. registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited inadequate and flawed review of the science on the chemical’s toxicity to bees, European beekeepers filed complaint that that asks the European Court of Justice to take the same action. The complaint  asks the court to cancel sulfoxaflor’s authorization. Sulfoxaflor is a neonicotinoid-like chemical that, like neonicotinoids, is highly toxic to bees. Three of the most widely used neonicotinoids are currently under a two-year European-wide moratorium which began December 2013, due to concerns about risks to bee populations. European beekeepers, Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination, the Italian National Beekeeping Union (UNAAPI), and PAN Europe, filed the complaint which cites a published  negative opinion on Dow AgroScience’s sulfoxaflor by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). According to EFSA, the pesticide is categorized as ”˜highly toxic to bees’ and it identified crucial toxicity data gaps, which according to the beekeepers, makes a proper risk assessment for bees impossible. Despite these facts, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante) and the EU member states authorized sulfoxaflor in July 2015, completely bypassing the pesticide regulation, the complaint […]

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U.S. Senators to Advance Legislation to Stop States from Labeling GE Food

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2015) With increasing consumer concern about genetically engineered (GE) food, yesterday  the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing,  entitled Agriculture Biotechnology: a Look at Federal Regulation and Stakeholder Perspectives, that critics called lopsided. Most witnesses characterized GE food as safe or side-stepped the issue of safety, as government witnesses refused to distinguish GE from conventional food and opposed food labeling. “This is the first time in 10 years we’ve had a hearing on biotech. I guess we’re a little late, but we’re here,” said chair of the committee, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS). The ranking  minority member of the committee, Senator  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)  said,  “Biotechnology is proven to be safe, beneficial, and I believe will play a major role in helping to solve these dual global challenges of climate change and global food security,” Central to the hearing is the the issue of labeling food products containing GE crops. Senator Stabenow called for the adoption of legislation on GE food labeling, presumably with language that will preempt the authority of states to adopt more stringent labeling standards. Senator Stabenow said that she wants labeling that “doesn’t stigmatize biotechnology.” The GE food […]

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Federal Court Overturns EPA Approval of New Bee-Killing Insecticide Sulfoxaflor

Friday, September 11th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2015) On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unconditional registration of the systemic and bee-toxic pesticide sulfoxaflor. The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law and its own regulations when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honey bee colonies. The Court vacated EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, meaning that sulfoxaflor may no longer be used in the U.S. However, while the decision is good news for now, it still leaves the door open for sulfoxaflor’s future use once EPA obtains the necessary information regarding impacts to honey bees and re-approves the insecticide in accordance with law. The case is Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, Thomas Smith, Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson v. U.S. EPA (9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,  No. 13-7234). Dow AgroSciences (a Dow Chemical company)  joined  the case as an intervenor to support EPA. EPA initially proposed to conditionally register sulfoxaflor and requested additional studies to address gaps in the data regarding the pesticide’s effects on bees. A few months later, however, EPA unconditionally registered […]

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Canadian Senate Committee Report Finds Neonicotinoids Play Role in Bee Mortality

Friday, May 29th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2015) A report released by the Canadian Senate’s Committee on Agriculture and Forestry this week acknowledges that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees, although it adds that more scientific data is needed before making any policies in response. The report was released exactly one week after a similar announcement by the White House, which also identifies key threats, but falls short of recommendations submitted by Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and others who stress that pollinator protection begins with strong regulatory action and suspension of bee-toxic pesticides. The Canadian report, titled “The Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada,” highlights different stressors that cause harm to bees, one of which includes neonicotinoids, a class of widely-used insecticides that have been linked by a growing number of studies to global bee declines. Other stressors mentioned include climate change, diseases and parasites, and lack of floral diversity. The report calls for Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to quickly complete its re-evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids have been approved for use in Canada for 10 years, but the PMRA is in the process of re-examining their use. Senator Percy Mockler, the chair of Senate’s agriculture committee, stressed waiting […]

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Toxic Imidacloprid To Be Sprayed on Oyster Beds in Washington Bays

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2015) Much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) approved a permit for the use of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) to combat a growing native population of burrowing shrimp that threatens valuable shellfish (oyster) beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington state. Imidacloprid is known to be toxic to bees but is also toxic to aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. The shellfish industry is important to the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated $270 million or more into the region’s economy, and providing jobs for many. Washington’s tidelands, especially those in Willapa Bay, have been particularly productive for more than 100 years. However, according to shellfish growers, the burrowing shrimp (ghost shrimp, Neotrypaea californiensis,  and mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis) undermines the industry. The creatures burrow into shellfish beds, making the beds too soft for shellfish cultivation. Their burrowing churns the tidelands into a sticky muck, smothering the oysters. After several years of deliberations and studies, Ecology identified imidacloprid as its  preferred choice for eradicating the shrimp. According to the agency, imidacloprid disrupts the burrowing shrimps’ […]

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White House Delays Government-wide Action on Pollinators, Cites Chemical Dangers

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2014) Last week the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced new guidelines for federal agencies to incorporate pollinator friendly practices at federal facilities and on federal lands. Critical to pollinator health within these guidelines is a requirement that agencies should “[a]cquire seeds and plants from nurseries that do not treat their plants with systemic insecticides.” Further, the document states that, “Chemical controls that can adversely affect pollinator populations should not be applied in pollinator habitats. This includes herbicides, broad spectrum contact and systemic insecticides, and some fungicides.” Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement this summer eliminating neonicotinoid use on National Wildlife Refuges, this represents the latest instance of a federal entity recognizing the danger caused by systemic pesticides, and recommending against their introduction in pollinator habitat. However, while the CEQ’s new pollinator friendly practices for federal facilities provide great information on appropriate plants by region, encourage education and outreach to citizens, and prescribe neonicotinoid-free plant selection, the guidelines fall just short of establishing or encouraging an organic management system for federal facilities. Although the report recommends against using chemical controls in established pollinator habitats, and indicates that “[I]n general, the use of […]

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DuPont Pays $1.9 Million Penalty to EPA, Fails to Disclose Data on Pesticide Hazard

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

­ ­ ­(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2014) DuPont agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $1.853 million to settle charges from the agency that the chemical giant’s herbicide product ImprelisTM was responsible for killing and damaging thousands of acres of spruce and pine trees in 2011. On Monday, EPA filed a Consent Agreement and Final Order against DuPont for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for selling and distributing its pesticide product -ImprelisTM herbicide. EPA contends that DuPont failed to submit in a timely manner  field trial studies indicating potential ecological adverse effects from the use of Imprelis. In 2011, in what some say was one of the biggest disasters of its kind, Norway spruce and white pine tree damage and deaths were reported throughout the Midwest, in East Coast states, and as far south as Georgia. It was determined that Imprelis, marketed as a “low environmental impact” pesticide, was applied during the spring to control weeds on lawns and other landscapes in the vicinity of the non-target evergreen trees. Imprelis, whose active ingredient is the potassium salt of aminocyclopyrachlor, was conditionally registered by EPA in September 2010, in a regulatory process reminiscent of […]

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