(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2017) Tests of waterways in the United Kingdom (UK) reveal rivers contaminated with neonicotinoids, the class of chemicals highly toxic to bees and aquatic invertebrates. And now, although neonicotinoids were banned from use on certain crops in the European Union (EU) in 2013, an EU vote to extend the ban has been delayed. The test results raise concerns over neonicotinoids’ impacts on waterways, especially to fish and birds. Under a new EU mandate -Water Framework Directive ‘Watch List’ initiative – the UK was required to monitor for all five commonly used neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid and thiacloprid. Twenty-three sites were sampled in 2016, 16 in England, four in Scotland, three in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. This is the first systematic testing of neonicotinoids in rivers in Britain. According to the results, half the rivers tested in England had either chronic or acute levels of contamination. Of the 23 rivers tested across Britain, all but six contain neonicotinoids. Eight rivers in England exceed recommended chronic pollution limits, and two are acutely polluted. Neonicotinoids are not only highly toxic to bees but also highly toxic to aquatic . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2017) A recent study finds that environmental exposures contribute to increasing disease burden and corresponding health costs that may exceed 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Neurological impairments particularly add significant costs to both individuals and societies. This European study combined cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting substances, and suggests that a shift in priority setting for environmental policy is needed. The study’s authors, from Harvard University, the University of Southern Denmark, and the EHESP School of Public Health in France, say that calculations currently used as international references are “serious underestimations” of the economic costs associated with preventable environmental risk factors. Published in Environmental Health, the study, Calculation of the disease burden associated with environmental chemical exposures: application of toxicological information in health economic estimation, combined and extended cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including neurotoxicants, pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, where sufficient data were available to determine dose-dependent adverse effects. The study utilized risk valuations to assess the environmental burden of disease, and used country-specific monetary values of metrics for length and quality of life . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2017) According to a Reuters story, agrichemical company Monsanto plans to offer farmers a cash incentive to use its highly toxic and drift-prone dicamba-based herbicide next season, despite links to widespread crop damage that has pitted neighbor against neighbor in agricultural communities throughout the country. The move comes as more and more states enact or consider restrictions on use of the herbicide, which is intended to be paired with genetically engineered (GE) soybean seeds resistant to both dicamba and another controversial herbicide produced by Monsanto, glyphosate. Monsanto plans to provide farmers more than half of the cost of herbicide per acre as an incentive to plant its GE seeds. However, given the range of new regulations surrounding the products, as well as the social stigma around its use, it remains to be seen whether the offer will sway farmers. Dicamba has stirred up fights between neighbors in a number of agricultural communities. Bader Farms, which grows over 110,00 peach trees on over 1,000 acres in Missouri, is suing Monsanto after its insurance company issued a refusal to pay for damages caused by dicamba drift from surrounding farms. In June of this . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2017) Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to substantially increase the amount of funding spent on the conservation of monarch butterflies and the restoration of their habitat, and to ensure that restored habitat is not poisoned with hazardous pesticides. Although the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs –including the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund— last year’s NRCS expenditure of $4 million was insufficient to prevent the monarchs’ decline, and could not even begin stemming the loss of milkweed habitat. Restoring the monarch butterfly and its habitat will require a substantial contribution from the agricultural sector and strong leadership from the NRCS. Agricultural lands encompass 77% of all prospective monarch habitat, and thus are indispensable to reaching these goals. Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and it is estimated that there is a 60 percent chance the multigenerational migration of these butterflies would completely collapse in the next 20 years. Milkweed, the only forage for monarch caterpillars, has decreased by 21 percent, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural fields and . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2017) Less toxic oil-based insecticides are showing promise for the treatment of bed bugs, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Economic Entomology. The common bed bug has seen a significant resurgence in the U.S., and with the pests found to be resistant to a broad range of modern, toxic insecticides, pest control operators are searching out new, safer ways to manage infestations. “So far there are no reports of resistance to these oils,” said study author Changlu Wang, PhD to Entomology Today. “It is very difficult for insects to develop resistance to them since they are not neurotoxins.” A range of 18 essential oils, concentrated liquids containing aromatic compounds derived from plants, were tested for their toxicity to bed bugs that were retrieved from an infested building in Indiana. Paraffin oil, a colorless and odorless mineral oil, as well as three silicone oils, similarly colorless and odorless oils used in various personal care products and medications, were also screened for their toxicity to bed bugs. Scientists observed the bed bugs in a laboratory setting for two weeks before moving to another round of . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2017) European health and environmental groups Global 2000 and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) have announced plans to sue European Union authorities over their assessment of the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup products produced by the chemical company Monsanto. The groups claim that the German regulatory authority, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used material directly from Monsanto in their report over the safety of glyphosate without making clear that the data came from Monsanto itself. “Both the BfR and the EFSA were in breach of the requirement obliging them to make an independent, objective and transparent assessment,” the groups said in a statement provided to Reuters. PAN and Global 2000 filed legal complaints with investigators in both Berlin and Vienna, and plan to follow up with suits in France and Italy. The groups cite Austrian criminal code in their complaint, which indicates that “incorrect or falsified data” could be cause for commercial fraud. The two groups are also alleging that EFSA and BfR willfully endangered the public and the environment. Although the next steps are unclear, groups indicate . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2017) Last week over 100 conservation and environmental groups urged the federal government to increase funding to protect and conserve monarch butterflies. These iconic butterflies, native to North America, have seen drastic declines in their populations. Surveys report over 80 percent reductions in populations over the last 20 years. Pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change have all been identified as stressors to these butterflies. The groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do more to help the imperiled butterfly. The letter requests the agency increase the allotment of conservation funds from $4 million- spent last year- to $100 million. The increase in funds is needed for efforts to increase milkweed habitat. In contrast, the government spent over $500 million on sage grouse initiatives to prevent that animal’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though the Trump Administration is seeking to overturn these initiatives. Currently, the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs. These include the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support of the Monarch . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2017) Fungicides are likely playing an important role in the decline of North American bumblebee populations, according to new research published by a team at Cornell University. While overwhelming data continue to indicate that insecticides, particularly the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, are the leading factor in overall pollinator declines, Cornell scientists discovered that fungicides, in particular the chemical chlorothalonil, are likely compounding risk and toxicity for U.S. bumblebee species. As new studies continue to expand the chemical culprits in pollinator declines, calls for a wholesale change in agricultural practices toward more sustainable organic production are reinforced. Cornell researchers began their investigation by focusing on what land use factors had the most impact on eight bumblebee species, many of which have been declining in the U.S. Bumblebee species were sampled at nearly 300 sites in 40 states during the summer months, and at each of the sampling sites, landscape variables were characterized and quantified for land use (urban v rural), habitat (high vs low latitude), and pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide) usage. The strongest indicator of declining range within the selected bumblebee species was found to be overall fungicide use, with . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2017) You told the Arkansas Plant Board to exercise its authority to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment from use of the herbicide dicamba on genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, and the board listened. Now, we need to ask the board to stop the use of 2,4-D on GE cotton. The action of states is critical as the federal government ignores basic safety concerns. Action in Arkansas will influence other states. Tell the Arkansas Plant Board to adopt the proposed rule and to prohibit use of 2,4-D on cotton! The decision concerning 2,4-D use on herbicide-tolerant cotton goes to the Arkansas Plant Board on December 12. The choice has many similarities to the decision to allow — and then prohibit — the use of dicamba on herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties. Both 2,4-D and dicamba are phenoxy herbicides — 2,4-D being the infamous ingredient (along with 2,4,5-T) of Agent Orange. Our voices were heard when the Arkansas Plant Board considered dicamba, so please weigh in on 2,4-D. At this December 12 meeting, the Arkansas Plant Board is holding a hearing on a proposed regulation that would allow the Board to request more information from pesticide registrants, which could support restrictions . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2017) Ichneumonid wasps (family Ichneumonidae), are a widely distributed parasitoid wasp family within the order Hymenoptera. The name “ichneumonid” comes from Greek words meaning “tracker” and “footprint.” And females do indeed hunt for suitable “hosts” by first identifying the organism’s food source. Once a suitable host is found, females deposit eggs onto the unsuspecting insect larvae where, within ten days to several weeks, the Ichneumonid larva kills the host by feeding on its body fluids before it emerges. They are also known as “scorpion wasps” for the extreme length and curving motion of their segmented abdomens. Note: both adult males and females are stingless, and feed on nectar. The discovery of Ichneumonidae was so troubling to many that, in 1860, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, saying: “I own that I [should wish to] see as plainly as others do…evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us…I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” The . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2017) A French court suspended the license of two pesticide products citing their toxicity to bees. The products, Closer and Transform, both contain the active ingredient, sulfoxaflor, which is highly toxic to bees. The ruling overturned the decision by France’s health and environment agency, ANSES, to allow the use of the sulfoxaflor products. Sulfoxaflor use was also challenged in the U.S. by beekeepers concerned about its impact on already declining bee populations. Sulfoxaflor is a relatively new active ingredient whose mode of action is similar to that of neonicotinoid pesticides. Even though it has not been classified as a neonicotinoid, it elicits similar neurological responses in honey bees, with many believing that sulfoxaflor is a new generation of neonicotinoid. Its initial 2013 U.S. registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inadequate review of the data. 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. By vacating EPA’s unconditional registration of the . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2017) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, responded to the latest industry-fueled attacks on its reputation in the wake of its 2015 determination that glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world, is a probable carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity found in laboratory studies. Despite strong evidence against continued use of the chemical, the European Union voted this week to extend its allowance in member countries another 5 years. However, the extension is not the 15 years that Monsanto and other chemical companies sought, and France remains committed to banning the product in its home country and throughout the EU as soon as possible. On November 1, Chairmen Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and Environment Subcommittee, respectively, sent a letter to IARC questioning the integrity of its determination that glyphosate has carcinogenic properties. This is the latest in a long string of assaults on the agency encouraged by chemical companies, like Monsanto, which have an economic interest in keeping its toxic products on the market and away from . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2017) Bumblebees exposed to field-realistic levels of neonicotinoid insecticides have problems with “buzz pollination” that results in reduced pollen collection, according to new research published in Scientific Reports. This is the latest science to tease out the complex ways in which neonicotinoids interfere with these important pollinators, providing yet another reason to eliminate these highly toxic, systemic insecticides from the environment. Flowers that bumblebees pollinate require the insects to emit soundwaves, or ‘sonicate’ to release their pollen, and bumblebees must perfect their techniques over time in order to maximize the pollen they are able to collect. Researchers tested the effect of neonicotinoids on bumblebees’ sonication abilities by exposing them to field realistic doses of the insecticide thiamethoxam at rates of 2 parts per billion (ppb) and 10 ppb, and observing their ability to successfully collect pollen. A control group that never came in contact with thiamethoxam was also used to compare the progress of the exposed group. Lead author of the study, Penelope Whitehorn, PhD, indicated, “We found that control bees, who were not exposed to the pesticide, improved their pollen collection as they gained experience, which we . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2017) Congress is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported. Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act! The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy. According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as: • Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. • Climate Change –The . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 22-23, 2017) As we sit with friends and family this Thanksgiving, let us appreciate how our delicious meal got to your table. The turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cider all originated in fields far from our homes, and those working in those fields deserve our thanks. They deserve our thanks because many of these workers work long hours, under deplorable conditions, and are exposed to pesticides that put their health and that of their families at risk. So, as we enjoy our pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and apple crumble, remember all the hardworking farmworkers who have helped to bring our meal to the Thanksgiving table. At the same time, we give thanks for the environment that is so plentiful and nurturing of life, and remember the importance of pollinators and biodiversity in sustaining life. Celebrating Thanksgiving and looking toward another year coming to an end, provides an opportunity for us to remember to remain vigilant, and raise our voices against efforts to erode our environmental protections that safeguard human health and preserve biodiverse ecosystems. Thanking Farmworkers Farm work is hard and dangerous work. Each year millions of farmworkers, including seasonal and . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2017) Both the active and inert ingredients in common herbicides induce antibiotic resistance in human pathogenic bacteria, according to the latest research from New Zealand scientists, published in Microbiology this week. Previous research from the same team found in 2015 that commercial formulations of Roundup (containing glyphosate and inert ingredients) and Kamba (containing 2,4-D, Dicamba, and inert ingredients) caused antibiotic resistance to develop in Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli, but this new research drills down into what ingredients in these formulations resulted in the effect. Lead author of the study, Jack Heinemann, PhD, University Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, explains that ultimately this research indicates that, “The sub-lethal effects of industrially manufactured chemical products should be considered by regulators when deciding whether the products are safe for their intended use,” Scientists parsed out the effects of individual active and inert ingredients by obtaining pure, technical grade dicamba, 2,4-D, and glyphosate, as well as the inert co-formulants “Tween80” and “CMC,” which are respectively, used to reduce surface tension and regulate the viscosity in a formulated herbicide, though also used as emulsifiers in foods like ice cream and in medicines. The . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2017) The pesticide industry is drafting legislation that threatens to remove provisions of the Endangered Species Act that protect species from pesticides. Tell your Congressional delegation to oppose all efforts to reduce endangered species protections from pesticides. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. It represents a commitment to protect and restore those species most at risk of extinction. Recent polling shows 84 percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and 87 percent agree that it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants, insects, and fish from extinction. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years. An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. In the case of pesticides, EPA is . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2017) The Trump Administration is asking a federal court to delay a prior agreement that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue findings on the risk of three highly toxic organophosphate pesticides to endangered species. The move is widely seen by environmental advocates as influenced by the chemical industry, in particular the new agrichemical conglomerate DowDuPont, which completed a megamerger in September. The Trump Administration’s ongoing willingness to do the bidding of the chemical and pesticide industry means that voters must speak out to their elected representatives to stem the tide of chemical poisonings in the U.S. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires the agency’s pesticide registration process to include consultations with federal wildlife agencies, including NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In this case, the pesticides in question are chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, three highly toxic chemicals used as nerve agents during WW2 and registered as pesticides since the 1960s. EPA’s failure to consult with these agencies is a chronic problem in the pesticide registration and . . .
(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2017) With a petition signed by over one million people, farming, consumer, and environmental groups called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week to block the proposed merger of Bayer (BAYN) and Monsanto (MON). The signatures were delivered as two new reports reveal devastating impacts that will be caused by the merger on consumers and farmers, including higher food prices, less innovation, limited seed choices, and escalating dependency of toxic chemical inputs in food production. On Tuesday November 14, 2017, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs and the Open Markets Institute released an analysis, “Bayer-Monsanto Merger: Big Data, Big Agriculture, Big Problems,” which explores the implications of a combined biotechnology, chemical, and seed platform owned by Bayer and Monsanto and how it may impact competition and farmer choice. The release of the analysis coincided with a hearing on technology in agriculture and data-driven farming in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. Consumer Federation of America also released a report, “Mega-Mergers in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Sector the Political Economy of Tight Oligopolies on Steroids and the Squeeze on Farmers and Consumers.” The report . . .