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American Bumblebee Considered for Endangered Status, But Will “Critical Habitat” Be Defined?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will consider listing the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act, according to a notice published in the Federal Register late last month. Earlier this year, the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the agency to list the species. USFWS review of the petition indicates that it found “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and will determine over the next year whether final listing and further protective actions are warranted.  With the American bumblebee experiencing an 89% decline in its population over the last 20 years, scientists and advocates  believe it is critical for USFWS to take steps to protect what remains of this iconic species. At one time, the American bumblebee’s range extended from eastern Canada south through the United States into Florida, and as far west as California. Oregon is the only state in the continental US where the species has never been spotted. Declines are particularly pronounced in the northern part of its range, where recent sightings are nil, and assessments for states like New […]

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EPA Decisions Lacking Scientific Integrity Still In Place Under Biden Administration, Say Whistleblowers

Friday, October 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2021) With this article, Beyond Pesticides rounds out its coverage of recent revelations about compromised science integrity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Sharon Lerner reports in her September 18 (and third in a series) article in The Intercept, new documents and whistleblower interviews reveal additional means by which EPA officials have gone out of their way to avoid assessing potential health risks of hundreds of new chemicals. Ms. Lerner writes that “senior staff have made chemicals appear safer — sometimes dodging restrictions on their use — by minimizing the estimates of how much is released into the environment.” Beyond Pesticides regularly monitors and reports on scientific integrity at EPA, including two recent articles that reference Ms. Lerner’s The Intercept reporting; see “EPA Agenda Undermined by Its Embrace of Industry Influence,” and “Whistleblowers Say EPA Managers Engaged in Corrupt and Unethical Practices, Removed Findings, and Revised Conclusions.” Whistleblowers had already provided evidence of agency malfeasance, particularly in EPA’s New Chemicals Division (NCD), such as “managers and other officials . . . pressuring [EPA scientists] to assess chemicals to be less toxic than they actually are — and sometimes removing references to their harms from […]

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Conventional Agriculture Decreases Diversity of Gut Bacteria in Foraging Bats

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2021) Bats foraging in chemical-intensive banana plantations have much less gut diversity than bats foraging in organic banana fields and natural forestland, finds research published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Although there is increasing recognition that a diet of conventional, chemically grown food leads to adverse disruptions of the gut microbiome (also known as dysbiosis), little research has been conducted on the effect of production practices on the gut of wild foraging species. According to the present study there are significant differences that regulators must begin to account for in pesticide risk assessments, and consumers should consider when making choices at the supermarket. Researchers focused their investigation on Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), a nectar feeding bat native to Central and South America. The bat is highly adapted to human environments, sustaining populations in both conventional and organic banana plantations, as well as surrounding forest land. For the study, researchers trapped nearly 200 bats across the country of Costa Rica over a 22-month time span. After trapping, physiological characteristics, like size and body weight, were measured, and bat guano was analyzed for its microbial population. All sampled bats were released back […]

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We Must End the Sixth Extinction

Monday, September 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2021) Scientists warn that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. A series of reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlights how human activities threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water, as well as one million species now at risk of extinction. The UNEP report, Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, identifies the global food system as the primary driver of biodiversity loss. The report points to the conversion of natural ecosystems to crop production and pasture, with concomitant use of toxic chemicals, monoculture, and production of greenhouse gases.  In view of the many steps that have been identified to stop both biodiversity loss and global climate change, it is beyond disappointing to see our “Environmental Protection Agency” continuing to allow use of chemicals that it recognizes will contribute to the problems. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.” It has been ratified by 196 nations—all the members of the United Nations […]

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Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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Of Multiple Stressors, Pesticides Are the Most Harmful to Bees by Acting Synergistically to Increase Mortality

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2021) Multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, act synergistically to increase the risk of bee mortality, according to a meta-analysis recently published in the journal Nature. The findings are yet another indictment of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system’s ability to protect pollinators, as the authors note that their results, “…demonstrate that the regulatory process in its current form does not protect bees from the unwanted consequences of complex agrochemical exposure.” As scientific community continues to confirm the dangers of pesticides and other anthropogenic stressors to pollinators, it remains up to advocates and other concerned residents to get regulators and policymakers to listen to and act on these critically important conclusions.   Scientists aimed to evaluate how combinations of multiple pesticides, parasites, and lack of floral resulted in bee death or subchronic effects that impacted overall fitness (reproductive ability, colony health, etc), behavior, parasite load, or immune response. The effects of multiple stressors can be characterized as antagonistic when stressors cancel themselves out, additive when the impacts seen are what would be predicted when summing the individual effects, and synergistic when the effects are multiple times more harmful than what would be predicted additively. To […]

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Whistleblowers Say EPA Managers Engaged in Corrupt and Unethical Practices, Removed Findings and Revised Conclusions

Friday, August 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2021) The organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has filed complaints with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of four EPA whistleblower scientists. The scientists maintain that during the Trump administration, risk assessments for both new and existing chemicals were improperly changed by agency managers to eliminate or reduce calculations of risks; further, they assert that some of this behavior at EPA is ongoing. Beyond Pesticides recently covered a report in The Intercept, written by Sharon Lerner, that examined the multiple aspects of undue industry influence on the regulation of pesticide chemicals. The PEER complaints address regulation of other kinds of toxic chemicals, but Beyond Pesticides maintains that some of the problems the whistleblowers identify hold true for EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, as well. Appropriately enough, the nation again recognized National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30. In 1989, Congress established the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) to protect federal employees who report lawbreaking or other violations of rules or regulations; waste of funds; abuses of authority; gross mismanagement; or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. In 2012, Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement […]

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296 Chemicals in Consumer Products Increase Breast Cancer Risk Through Hormone (Endocrine) Disruption

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2021) New research published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds nearly 300 different chemicals in pesticides, consumer products, and contaminated resources (i.e., food, water) increase breast cancer risks. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. Past studies suggest genetic inheritance factors influence breast cancer occurrence. However, genetic factors only play a minor role in breast cancer incidences, while exposure to external environmental factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. There are grave concerns over exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals and pollutants that produce adverse health effects. Most types of breast cancers are hormonally responsive and thus dependent on the synthesis of either estrogen or progesterone. Hormones generated by the endocrine system greatly influence breast cancer incidents among humans. Several studies and reports, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, identify hundreds of chemicals as influential factors associated with breast cancer risk. Therefore, advocates point to the need for national policies to reassess hazards associated with disease development and diagnosis upon exposure to chemical pollutants. The study’s researchers note, “This study shows that a number of chemicals currently in use have the ability to manipulate hormones known to adversely […]

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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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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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Vineyard Pesticides Linked to Parkinson’s

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2021) Vineyard farmers who spend more money on pesticide use are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, according to research published by French scientists in the journal Environmental Research. With Parkinson’s disease on the rise around the world, and emerging evidence growing for a Parkinson’s pandemic, it is critically important to suss out the factors at play. And as pesticides continue to appear as a driving force for this deadly chronic disease, it is increasingly necessary to pressure regulators to restrict use of these hazardous substances in chemical farming operations. Researchers used a French National Health Insurance Database to identify incidents of Parkinson’s disease in farmers from 2010-2015. These data were then matched with pesticide expenditures recorded from over 3,500 French farming regions, taken around the year 2000. Models were adjusted for a range of health factors, including smoking, age, and sex. Results show that accounts of Parkinson’s disease increase as pesticide expenditures increase for farmers working in vineyards. For the highest amounts paid for pesticides, Parkinson’s disease incidence is 16% higher. No connections were found for other cropping systems. “This result suggests that agricultural practices and pesticides used in these vineyards may play a role […]

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Take Action: Tell EPA to Ban ALL Triazine Herbicides

Monday, June 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2021) The endocrine disrupting herbicide propazine (in the triazine family of frog-deforming endocrine disruptors) is set for cancellation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The move would eliminate use of the hazardous herbicide by the end of 2022. However, all pesticides in the triazine class, including atrazine and simazine, have similar properties and should be eliminated from use. Tell EPA to finish the job by banning all triazines. In November 2020, Beyond Pesticides and allied environmental groups launched a lawsuit against EPA for its intent to reregister the triazine family of chemicals. The agency’s interim approval of the herbicides, conducted under the Trump administration, eliminates important safeguards for children’s health and a monitoring programs intended to protect groundwater from contamination. As is typical with EPA, the agency merely proposed minor label changes in attempts to mitigate risks identified in its registration review. According to a release from EPA, it made the decision not out of concerns relating to human health and environmental protection, but in order to provide “regulatory certainty” for farmers and local officials. In March 2021, the Biden administration requested a stay on the atrazine lawsuit brought by environmental groups, as it indicated […]

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Past Use of Lead Arsenate Pesticides Continue to Contaminate Residential Areas 70 Years Later

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2021) Lead arsenate pesticides continue to contaminate Central Washington residential areas that were once tree fruit orchards. Although these toxic legacy pesticides have not been in use for almost 70 years, the Washington State Department of Ecology report finds lead and arsenic soil concentrations above the Washington State cleanup levels. It is well-known that traces of legacy (past-use) pesticides, like organochlorines, remain in the environment for decades—possibly centuries, post-final application. However, these chemicals have profound adverse impacts on human health, with links to cancer, reproductive and endocrine (hormone) disruption, and birth/developmental abnormalities. Current-use pesticides also contaminate the ecosystem via drift, runoff, and leaching. Therefore the impact of both current and past use of pesticides on human, animal, and environmental health, especially in combination, is critical to any safety analysis. The researchers note, “Historical application of lead arsenate (LA) pesticides on tree fruit orchards has resulted in the accumulation of lead and arsenic in shallow soil at concentrations above Washington State cleanup levels. These are levels that may be harmful to human health when properties are used for activities other than agricultural or industrial land uses. This report outlines a recommended approach for managing and mitigating LA pesticide soil contamination, […]

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Pesticide Pollution Continues Unabated, According to New Data

Friday, June 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2021) The release of the most recent U.S. Geological Services (USGS) study of pesticide contamination of rivers on the U.S. mainland finds that degradation of those rivers from pesticide pollution continues unabated. USGS scientists looked at data from 2013 to 2017 (inclusive) from rivers across the country and offered these top-level conclusions: “(1) pesticides persist in environments beyond the site of application and expected period of use, and (2) the potential toxicity of pesticides to aquatic life is pervasive in surface waters.” Beyond Pesticides maintains that ultimately, water quality and aquatic organisms and their ecosystems will be fully protected from pesticides through a wholesale movement to organic land management practices. USGS undertakes periodic assessments of the presence and toxicity of pesticides in the country’s surface waters under the agency’s National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Recent news from these studies has not been good. In September 2020, Beyond Pesticides reported on another, related USGS survey, which found that nearly 90% of U.S. rivers and streams are contaminated with mixtures of at least five or more different pesticides. A March 2021 Beyond Pesticides Daily News article noted that USGS research demonstrated that, of 422 water samples taken from streams across […]

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Tell EPA to Protect Farmworkers Now; Hear Directly from Farmworker Community Members

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2021) Farmworkers are at greatest risk from pesticides. EPA’s policies toward farmworkers comprise a blatant example of systemic racism. Although everyone suffers from pesticide poisoning, farmworkers and their families shoulder a disproportionate burden of the hazards.  Agricultural justice demands that we ensure a workplace with fair wages and benefits, no discrimination or coercion, and protection from hazards, such as harmful chemicals, including pesticides. Acknowledging, respecting, and sustaining the workers who plant, cultivate, and harvest our food is central to the basic values and principles that advance sustainable practices. Agricultural justice demands that we ensure a workplace with fair wages and benefits, no discrimination or coercion, and protection from hazards, such as harmful chemicals, including pesticides. Acknowledging, respecting, and sustaining the workers who plant, cultivate, and harvest our food is central to the basic values and principles that advance sustainable practices. Tell EPA to protect farmworkers from pesticides. Worker Protection Standards Are Inadequate to Protect Farmworkers Worker protection standards are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The original standard was developed after field hearings in which EPA heard from growers, but not farmworkers. With the threat […]

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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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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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Research Shows Adverse Impacts of Glyphosate on the Human Gut Microbiome

Friday, April 30th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 30, 2021) A bioinformatics tool developed by researchers from the University of Turku in Finland indicates that “54% of species in the core human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate.” This tool may help predict which microbes in the human gut could be negatively affected by exposure to the ubiquitous herbicide. Because damage to the gut biome is linked to a variety of diseases, this information could prove critical in recognition of the role(s) glyphosate may play in the development of human diseases. Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers’ paper states, “The widespread use of glyphosate may have a strong effect on gut microbiomes as well as on human health.” Beyond Pesticides has long reported on the relationship between glyphosate and human health, including potential effects on the human gut microbiome. Used in multiple herbicide formulations, glyphosate has become widely known as the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup®, the most-used herbicide worldwide. The pervasiveness of glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) use in agriculture, and of Roundup in particular, is due largely to their pairing with genetically engineered (GE) seeds for soy, canola, and corn crops. In many regions, these GE seeds — engineered to resist the glyphosate […]

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Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

Friday, April 16th, 2021

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

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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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Solitary Wild Bees Harmed by Neonicotinoid Pesticides Applied by Soil Drenching

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

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

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Breast Cancer Rates Higher Among African American Women from Disproportionate Chemical Exposure

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2021) A University of Michigan study finds a link between elevated rates of breast cancer incidents and chemical exposure from pesticides among African American women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race. Furthermore, incidences of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—an aggressive breast cancer subtype lacking remediation—is approximately three-fold higher in non-Hispanic Black women (NHBW) compared to non-Hispanic White women (NHWW). Although past studies suggest genetic and environmental factors interact to produce these differences in breast cancer outcomes, genetic factors only play a minor role while disparities (differences) in external factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. This study highlights the significance of understanding how chemical exposure drives disease outcomes and increases disease risk, especially for more virulent diseases that disproportionately (unequally) impact specific communities. Prior research infers differences in chemical exposure may explain racial disparities for several illnesses, and growing evidence suggests common chemical exposure patterns influence the risk of breast cancer. […]

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