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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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Death of as Many as 107,000 Bumblebees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides Studied

Friday, July 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2021) Recently published research reviews the 2013 Wilsonville, Oregon mass bumblebee die-off from application of the neonicotinoid dinotefuran on 55 linden trees in a big-box-store parking lot. In that single event, the research paper (published in Environmental Entomology) estimates between 45,830 and 107,470 bumblebees from some 289–596 colonies were killed. Reporting on the new study, by Entomology Today, quotes primary conclusions of the co-authors: “Our study underscores the lethal impact of the neonicotinoid pesticide dinotefuran on pollinating insect populations,” and, “It is likely that the vast majority of mass pesticide kills of beneficial insects across other environments go unnoticed and unreported.” As Beyond Pesticides has chronicled, the U.S. and the world are undergoing a pollinator crisis, caused in significant part by agricultural pesticides. Dinotefuran, the neonicotinoid (neonic) that killed those Oregon bumblebees, is used against fleas, thrips, tree-boring caterpillars, emerald ash borers, hemlock woolly adelgids, and in the Oregon case, aphids. Entomology Today (ET) notes that the timing of this particular application could not have been worse: it happened on a warm day when the linden trees were in full flower and the bees out in force. Ironically, it occurred during Nation Pollinator Week. ET pens a […]

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Multi-Crop (Mixed Culture) Farming Practices Promote More Fruitful Farmland than Single-Crop (Monoculture)

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2021) A study by ETH Zurich finds multi-crop (mixed culture) farmlands, which include a diverse array of crops, produce higher biomass and seed yields than single-crop (monocultures). Monocultures are most prevalent among arable farmland as commercial industrial farming uses this practice to increase sowing, managing, and harvesting efficiency for higher yields. However, less crop diversity leads to higher, more intensive pesticide use as pests favor the consistent food availability monocultures provide. An increase in toxic chemical use threatens human, animal, and environmental health, as well as food security. Ecological research already finds a positive association between plant diversity and biomass productivity in grasslands and meadows. In addition, a University of California, Santa Barbara study demonstrates that crop diversity in commercial agriculture is just as essential to supporting a stable biological system as plant diversity on non-commercial landscapes (i.e., grasslands/meadows). Therefore, this research highlights the need to develop policies that help farmers and global leaders make more knowledgeable decisions regarding crop diversity to sustain yield without toxic pesticides. The researchers note, “While crop diversification provides a sustainable measure of agricultural intensification, the use of currently available cultivars [(plant varieties for selective breeding)] may compromise larger gains in seed yield. We, therefore, advocate regional […]

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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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EPA Agenda Undermined by Its Embrace of Industry Influence, Article Documents

Friday, July 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2021) The investigative online publication The Intercept has turned its attention to the current and historical role of industry in distorting, undermining, and outright suppressing the protective function of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to pesticide exposures. The subsequent reporting — “The Department of Yes: How Pesticide Companies Corrupted the EPA and Poisoned America” — is a devastating chronicle of the theme and particulars that Beyond Pesticides has covered for years. That is, that EPA has repeatedly disregarded its charge to protect human and environmental health in favor of enabling industry to continue its chemical experimentation on the populace and on the nation’s multiple natural resources. This pattern must change if the agency is to enact its mission and the public is to be protected. The Intercept interviewed more than 24 people with expertise on the regulation of pesticides, including 14 who have worked in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). The chief takeaway from those interviews, as written by reporter Sharon Lerner, is that EPA “is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many […]

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Second Highest Honey Bee Loss in 15 Years Documented

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2021) The second highest bee loss in 15 years has reported by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) in its 2020–2021 National Colony Loss and Management Survey, released on June 30. For the “winter” period of October 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, approximately 32% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost. This represents an increase of 9.6% over the prior year’s winter loss and is roughly 4% higher than the previous 14-year average rate of loss. For all of the past year (April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021) the colony loss was 45.5%. Beyond Pesticides has covered the related issues of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing and devastating impacts of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, and the larger context of what some have called the “insect apocalypse.” These recent BIP data appear to indicate that “we,” writ large, are failing to remedy these problems. Three out of four food crops globally depend on pollinators, at least in part. Commercially kept bees account for a significant portion of pollination of some U.S. crops; almonds are the leading crop, followed by apples and melons. The commercial bee business is huge — a $691 million […]

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Maine Aerial Forestry Spray Ban of Glyphosate and Other Herbicides Vetoed by Governor, Override Effort Begins

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2021) Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) last week vetoed legislation prohibiting the aerial use of glyphosate and other dangerous herbicides in forestry practices. LD125, An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture, was supported by a wide range of health and conservation groups, and aimed to bring the state in line with best practices for public health and the environment. With Maine recently passing one of the strongest consumer bans on pollinator-toxic neonicotinoids, advocates are dismayed by the setback from the Governor’s office. In a statement to Maine Public Radio, Senate President Troy Jackson said that Governor Mills should stop referring to herself as an environmentalist. “The science across the country, across the world, says that this stuff kills people, kills wildlife,” Mr. Jackson says. “And all that it is, is a giveaway to the large landowners so they can maximize their profits off the lives of the people in Maine and the wildlife in Maine.” Senator Jackson’s words are stern yet factual. Glyphosate has been identified by the World Health Organization as a probable human carcinogen. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, has been the subject […]

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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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Forestry Use of Glyphosate Reduces Fertility of Perennial Flowers and May Reduce Pollination

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2021) Glyphosate herbicide use in forested areas persists in the environment for years and can prompt morphological changes in perennial flowers that reduce their fertility and may make them less attractive to pollinators. These findings were published this month in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science by researchers at the University of British Columbia, who hope that their work will inform safer approaches to forest management. “The more we learn the better, and research can always be used to better inform management,” said lead author Lisa Wood, PhD. “Herbicide practices may change, if the research shows that this is in the public’s best interest.” Glyphosate herbicides like Roundup and Visionmax (a Canada-registered glyphosate product produced by Bayer/Monsanto) are often applied aerially via helicopter on wide swaths of forest land known as cutblocks. Cutblocks, designated areas where coniferous trees are grown for harvest and processing, are doused with glyphosate in order to manage understory trees and shrubs that would compete with the conifers. Researchers set out to understand the nontarget impacts of this practice on the surrounding forest ecosystem. Wild prickly rose (Rosa acicularis) plants were collected from three different cutblocks, each sprayed with Visionmax according to […]

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The Week of June 21 Is Pollinator Week—A Time to Take Personal and Community Action 

Monday, June 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2021) Pollinator Week reminds us that change is critical to the survival of the planet and that we can take action, both in our households and communities and in the state and federal policy arena.  Here’s how YOU can take action… Create an organic habitat on your own property or a space in the community—such as the library grounds, medians, and rights-of-way. Given that plant starts in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them, Beyond Pesticides has compiled a comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. [We are always updating the directory, so send us names of companies that should be added and we will.] Go organic in the management of all your town’s public spaces—parks, playing fields, school grounds, and open space. Check out the information on talking with your neighbors, local organizations, and elected officials about advancing our model local policy. Then you can see what other communities are doing across the country. Also, see the cost […]

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Maine Bans Consumer Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides, with Some Exceptions

Friday, June 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2021) As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to drag its feet on protective regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides, states continue to step up to restrict their use. In April, the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Janet Mills has now signed, a new law that will prohibit use of neonicotinoid pesticides with the “active ingredient[s] dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam used for application in outdoor residential landscapes such as on lawn, turf or ornamental vegetation” [links by Beyond Pesticides]. Though short of an outright ban, this law is a solid step forward for Maine in reining in use of these compounds, which are neurotoxicants widely implicated in pollinator (and other insect, bird, and mammal) harms or declines. Until a federal ban happens, Beyond Pesticides offers guidance on avoiding use of neonicotinoid pesticides through its fact sheet, Managing Pests Safely Without Neonicotinoids, and its Bee Protective web pages. This new Maine law does, however, include exemptions for wood preservation, indoor pest control, use on pets, treatment of structure foundations, and controlling invasive insect pests, such as the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock wooly adelgid. The statute leaves other large loopholes that will permit continued use […]

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Study Highlights Important Role Field Margins Play in Insect Conservation and Pest Management

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2021) Uncultivated field margins contain almost twice as many beneficial insects as cropped areas around farm fields, according to research published this week in the Journal of Insect Science. The study finds that these predators and parasitoids overwinter in diverse vegetation, and can provide farmers an important jump start on spring pest problems. “A benefit of understanding overwintering is that those arthropods that emerge in the spring may be more inclined to feed on pests when pest populations are low,” said Scott Clem, PhD, coauthor of the study. “And so, they may be more likely to nip pest populations in the bud before the pest problem becomes a big deal.” The study focused on five organic farms, as conventional chemically sprayed fields are not conducive to a thriving overwintering insect population. The farms, all located in the Midwest, each had 10 emergence tents set up both in the middle of the field and around field edges. Emergence tents capture insects that have spent their winter in soil and prevent predatory insects from escaping scientific analysis. After the tents were set up in mid-March 2018, samples were taken in late March, mid-April, and at the end of […]

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Cutting Edge Science Must be Considered…See Science and Policy at the National Pesticide Forum 

Monday, June 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2021) Beyond Pesticides reports regularly on new science showing how pesticides harm human health and ecosystems. This science is not factored into EPA decisions. Tell EPA that cutting-edge science must be considered. More than 50 pesticide active ingredients have been identified as endocrine disruptors that mimic the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body; block hormone receptors in cells, thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or affect the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, early puberty, infertility and other reproductive disorders, childhood and adult cancers, and other metabolic disorders. Similar effects are found in other species. In spite of legal requirements and the flood of research, EPA issues Proposed Interim Decisions (PIDs) on pesticide registrations making no human health or environmental safety findings associated with the potential for endocrine disruption, or identifying additional data needs to satisfy Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program requirements in the PIDs. EPA cannot make findings of no unreasonable adverse effects without findings […]

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A Toxic-Free Future. Scientific Understanding. Systemic Change. Organic Transition. Collective Action.

Friday, May 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2021) Do those ideas scratch your curiosity, science, policy, agriculture, and/or activist itch? Great — because the 2021 Annual National Pesticide Forum, Cultivating Healthy Communities: Confronting Health Threats, Climate Disasters, and Biodiversity Collapse with a Toxic-Free Future — begins very soon, so it is time to register! Cultivating Healthy Communities is a singular opportunity to learn from top experts and connect with kindred people from all over the U.S. (as well as with some international participants). During plenary sessions, presenters will share their understandings and ideas about the problems we face, and about urgently needed strategies and solutions to solve them. The workshop sessions will be interactive, providing attendees the chance to interact with one another and presenting experts. This annual National Pesticide Forum conference is convened, in 2021, by Beyond Pesticides and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai’s Institute for Exposomic Research. (“Exposomic” references the multitude of environmental factors to which an individual is exposed, and which can have effects on health.) If you are groaning or rolling your eyes at the thought of yet another conference, know that Cultivating Healthy Communities is not one of those events (think old school, boring, and expensive, […]

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New Commercial Pesticide Toxicity Analysis Highlights Need to Shift to Organic Products

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2021) Beyond Pesticides and Friends of the Earth (FOE) collaborated to analyze herbicide products at two of the most popular home and garden retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s. This new Commercial Herbicide Analysis highlights the adverse health and environmental effects of widely available toxic pesticides while encouraging retailers to expand on—and consumers to use—safer, least/non-toxic pesticide products. According to Akayla Bracey, Beyond Pesticides’ science and regulatory manager and lead researcher on the review, said, “People generally aren’t aware that the pesticides widely available in garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are a threat to health and the environment, and that there are safer products that are available and used in organic land management.” “Many herbicides that are widely available at home and garden stores are associated with a range of toxic impacts on human health and the environment, including harm to bees and other pollinators. To meet growing consumer demand for safer and more environmentally friendly products, home and garden stores must commit to phase out the most toxic products from their shelves and to increase the number of organic and safer alternatives that they offer,” says FOE senior staff scientist Kendra Klein, Ph.D. Friends […]

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General Release of Honey Bees Threatens Wild Native Bee Populations and Ecosystems

Friday, May 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2021) In a prime example of cart-before-the-horse, greenwashing, or perhaps “beewashing,” a British company has badly missed the mark in its latest attempt to market a product while “doing good” and generating goodwill with customers. As The Guardian reports, Marks & Spencer, the giant United Kingdom (UK) retailer, is releasing 30 million managed honey bees into rural British landscapes in what the company is promoting as an effort to support biodiversity and the beekeeping sector. However, according to experts and environmental advocates, unleashing that many honey bees may well actually harm both wild native bees and honey bees themselves. Critics of the move say this means that wild bees will likely face fiercer competition for already inadequate food sources. Beyond Pesticides adds that these honey bees have been dispatched to the same pesticide-contaminated habitats in which existing bee populations of all kinds face harmful exposures — exacerbating issues surrounding pollinator decline rather than solving them. Marks & Spencer’s Twitter marketing promotes the project in this way: “Did you know that bees contribute to a third of the food we eat? At M&S, we’re introducing more than 30 million bees to our Select Farms to help protect the […]

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Advocates Call for Ban of Toxic Pesticides Linked to Deaths from Chemical Suicides

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2021) Scientists are advocating for stricter pesticide bans to lower deaths from deliberate pesticide ingestion. The request for this toxic pesticide ban follows a University of South Australia study detailing discrepancies in World Health Organization (WHO) classifications of pesticide hazards that rely on animal rather than human data. Previous studies demonstrate an increased risk of developing depression, especially among agricultural workers and landscapers who use pesticides. Acute exposure to chemicals, including organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, tends to put farmers at greater risk of suicide than the general population. This research highlights the significance of assessing pesticide toxicity and health effects using human data rather than animals to understand health effects resulting from pesticide exposure. Society tends to rank mental health risks second to physical health. However, pesticide poisonings account for one in five suicides globally. Therefore, it is vital to address the accessibility and necessity of conventional pesticide use to safeguard human well-being, especially in countries lacking adequate chemical regulations. The study’s scientists note, “The human data for acute toxicity of pesticides should drive hazard classifications and regulation. We believe that a global benchmark for registration of pesticides should include a less than 5% case fatality after self-poisoning, which could prevent many […]

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Ecological Mystery Unravels, With Toxic Pesticide Use at the Center

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2021) Earlier this year, a team of scientists solved an ecological mystery that had persisted for decades. Throughout the southeastern United States, bald eagles and other top-level avian predators were experiencing mass deaths from a disease known as vacuolar myelinopathy (VM), a neurological ailment that causes lesions in affected animal’s brains. Scientists identified the source of the exposure as a cyanobacteria growing on an invasive weed, but up until now, did not know how the bacterium caused disease. Now, scientists have determined that the chemical bromine, likely introduced by brominated herbicides in attempts to manage the invasive species, is the trigger for the production of the cyanobacteria’s neurotoxin. In the mid-1990s, over 70 bald eagles died in Arkansas’s DeGray Lake over the course of two years. The event was the largest mass mortality of eagles recorded. Scientists identified the disease as vacuolar myelinopathy, and through the course of several years were able to determine that the disease generally affected birds in the built environment, near artificial bodies of water with high levels of aquatic plant life. Waterfowl and other bird species were found to develop lesions in lakes where there was an ongoing VM outbreak. Evidence […]

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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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