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Atrazine Exposure Leads to More Male, Fewer Female Frogs

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2017) Exposure to the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., atrazine, results in a higher proportion of male frogs in populations of Blanchard’s cricket frogs, according to researchers from Ohio’s Miami University. While it may be ostensibly easy to dismiss the results of this study as limited to a single frog species, the Blanchard cricket frog, with its populations concentrated in heavily farmed Midwestern states, is likely an important indicator of broader ecological impacts. Ultimately, only a transition away from toxic herbicides and towards integrated organic systems will successfully address the ongoing effects of industrial agrichemicals on amphibians. Miami researchers exposed frogs to varying concentrations of atrazine, 0.1, 1, and 10 μg/L, in the laboratory, in order to investigate sex ratios and potential effects on survival of the population. Although no significant effects were seen on survival rate during the course of the study, sex ratios were significantly altered at the 0.1 and 10 μg/L exposure concentrations. At these levels, populations developed 51 and 55% fewer males respectively than control frogs. Researchers point out that such significant results seen at such low concentrations likely indicates that sex ratios are also skewed in the wild. […]

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Herbicide Atrazine Found to Affect Health Across Multiple Generations

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2017) Adverse health effects caused by exposure to the widely used herbicide atrazine pass down from parents to their children through multiple generations, according to new research published by scientists at Washington State University. This burgeoning area of study on ‘transgenerational’ impacts calls into question the current methodology for assessing toxicity and risk from chemical exposure. With the current U.S. regulatory system permitting food and communities to be awash in toxic pesticides, the results of the study have grave implications for future generations. Scientists began their research by exposing rats to atrazine while still in the womb. The parents of these rats were the F0 generation, while their atrazine exposed offspring were F1. Rats in the F1 generation did not exhibit any incidence of disease or adverse health, however they had lower weights than F1 rats in the control group that were not exposed to atrazine. F1 rats were then bred to produce the F2 generation. Although rats in the F2 generation were never exposed to atrazine, they displayed a range of diseases. Males exhibited early onset puberty, diseases of the testis, and mammary tumors. Females exhibited mammary tumors and decreased body weight when compared to […]

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A Healthy Wetland Shown To Be an Important Tool in Mosquito Management

Friday, September 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2017) Wetlands are important habitats for many creatures, and provide critical environmental services that impact human, economic, and social activity and mosquito management. Wetlands improve water quality, sequester carbon, remove or neutralize pollutants, control flooding, protect adjacent areas from erosion, and host a multitude of beneficial plant and animal species — not to mention their recreational and aesthetic value.As recently reported in The Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal, a federally funded project underscores the importance of wetlands in controlling mosquito populations. The Courier-Journal article highlights the construction of 12,000 square feet of new wetlands and marshlands in Louisville. The project was funded with a $9,500 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and arose from the partnership of the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, the Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition, and a local nonprofit, the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center. Thomas Biebighauser, a wildlife and wetlands biologist, designed the project, which also involved engineering students from the University of Louisville. Impetus for the initiative was in part educational, and in part, a response to the facts that as far back as the 1980s, the area had lost more than 70% of its original wetlands to agriculture and development, and stretches of the nearby […]

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Glyphosate Stresses Tadpoles to Produce More Venom

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2017) Common toad tadpoles express more venom when chronically exposed to glyphosate herbicides, a study published last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates. Glyphosate, an increasingly controversial chemical found in Roundup brand herbicides produced by Monsanto, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts in both wildlife and people. The results of this research indicate a need to reduce the use of glyphosate in our environment to ease chronic stressors to sensitive wildlife like amphibians. Scientists tested the effects of formulated glyphosate products on toad tadpoles through experiments in a laboratory setting, as well as a mesocosm, a controlled outdoor environment that replicates natural conditions. Tadpoles in the lab were split into a series of groups which were each exposed to varying levels of glyphosate, some for the duration of the experiment, and others for 9 day periods during different stages in their development. For mesocosm tadpoles, researchers set up large plastic tubs and created small self-sustaining ecosystems with pond water and beech leaves. Glyphosate herbicides were added to certain tubs at either low or high concentrations. Both lab and mesocosm experiments had control tadpoles not exposed to any glyphosate herbicides. Tadpoles […]

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Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Monday, May 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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Study Finds Neonicotinoids in Water Straight from the Tap

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2017) A new study, Occurrence of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Finished Drinking Water and Fate during Drinking Water Treatment, has detected neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides known for their detrimental effects on bees, in treated drinking water. This marks the first time that these insecticides have been found in water sourced straight from the tap. Federal regulators have not yet addressed safe levels of neonicotinoids in drinking water, so at this point, any detection of these chemicals is cause for concern. The study authors “report for the first time the presence of three neonicotinoids in finished drinking water and demonstrate their general persistence during conventional water treatment.” Drinking water samples “collected along the University of Iowa treatment train” over a seven week period, May through July, 2016 directly after corn and soy planting, find three neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam at levels ranging from 0.24 to 57.3 ng/L (nanogams per liter). The University of Iowa tap water is run through a water treatment plant that uses conventional treatment methods.  In contrast, the Iowa City water treatment methods (granular activated carbon filtration) result in substantially lower levels of the neonicotinoids. Additionally, the researchers found that extensive transformation of clothianidin […]

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Study Finds Pesticide Use Does Not Increase Profits for Farmers

Friday, March 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2017) A French study published last week has found that higher pesticide use does not mean larger profits, demonstrating that farmers can reduce their usage of pesticides without worrying about their profits being affected, in most cases. Similar studies have shown that organic and conventional yields are comparable, supporting the case for farmers to transition from high pesticide use to healthier, safer, and more profitable alternatives. The study, led by Martin Lechenet, a PhD student with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, looked at data from 946 French farms, including yields, pesticide application rates, soil characteristics, and local climate conditions. The researchers then used a model to focus on the relationship between pesticide application rates and productivity or profitability. They found that, in 77% of the farms, higher pesticide use was not linked to a higher profit. The researchers then estimated that pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on current profit levels in 59% of farms in their national network. According to the researchers, their results demonstrate the ability to reduce pesticide usage for most farmers in current production situations. In addition, other studies support the finding that farmers do not have […]

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Study Shows Impact of Neonicotinoids in Amphibians

Monday, March 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2017) A study published last month by Canadian researchers finds that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid at environmentally relevant levels results in slight delays in metamorphosis in the tadpoles of the wood frog. While the authors find that this slight delay is not necessarily a cause for concern from an ecological perspective, sublethal effects of pesticide mixtures and a variety of stressors in the environment play a role in extending juvenile periods in frogs, which can increase mortality and population decline. Because neonicotinoids are so widely use, the authors recommend further research on their impact on declining frog populations. The study, published in Environmental Toxicology and entitled, “Sublethal effects on wood frogs chronically exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of two neonicotinoid insecticides,” looks at the chronic exposure effects of the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and thiamethoxam on the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). The wood frog was chosen because it is native to North America and has a wide distribution across the continent. The researchers exposed tadpoles to environmentally relevant concentrations (1ug/L, 10ug/L and 100ug/L) of the commercial formulation of the neonicotinoids (Admire and Actara). The study finds a significant difference in time for tadpoles to metamorphose. Tadpoles exposed […]

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EPA Finds Widely Used Pesticides Could Harm 97 Percent of Endangered Species

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its final Biological Evaluations of Three Chemicals’ Impacts on Endangered Species, which finds that chlorpyrifos and malathion likely have detrimental effect on 97 percent of all species listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while diazinon adversely affects 78 percent. According to EPA’s release on the subject, this is the “first-ever draft biological evaluations analyzing the nation-wide effects” of these registered chemicals on endangered species after decades of widespread use. The evaluations stem from a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in which CBD sued EPA in April 2014 for its failure to comply with ESA, which requires the agency to carry out consultations with federal wildlife agencies while registering pesticides. According to Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a CBD senior scientist, “We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use. The EPA is providing a reasonable assessment of those risks, many of which can be […]

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Herbicide Atrazine Affects Estuarine Phytoplankton Productivity, Threatens Aquatic Life

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2017)  A study published in December 2016 in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled The Effect of Atrazine on Louisiana Gulf Coast Estuarine Phytoplankton, finds that phytoplankton in estuaries in close proximity to agricultural operations are less productive than phytoplankton in an uncontaminated environment. The study examines three different estuaries of the Mississippi river in Louisiana and also evaluates microcosms with different concentrations of atrazine. Phytoplankton, incredibly important to estuary ecosystems and aquatic life, are an integral part of the aquatic food web and ultimately critical to the wild seafood market. As photosynthetic microorganisms, phytoplankton harness the sun’s energy for metabolism and create as a byproduct of photosynthesis dissolved oxygen, which oxygen-breathing sea life require. For the study, the researchers created microcosms, or large containers that are able to closely mimic ecosystems, so that they can observe the effects of independent variables. On average, phytoplankton in the microcosms are less productive at producing chlorophyll a in the presence of atrazine. The microcosm study design is important because it is difficult to separate and measure the effects of chemicals like atrazine in the environment, given the range of potential causes of phytoplankton decline. A variety of factors, like freshwater discharge rates, precipitation, […]

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EPA Revises Process, But Maintains Proposal to Stop Use of Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos in Agriculture

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2016) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its assessment of the toxic organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, keeping in place a decision made last year to revoke food residue tolerances and effectively eliminate its use in agriculture. The agency indicated the change was necessary after a Scientific Advisory Panel convened by the agency suggested additional data to support its decision. This change opens up a 60-day public comment period, but EPA has said that it will make a final decision no later than March 31, 2017. “The revised analyses indicate that expected residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops exceed the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA),” EPA noted in its announcement.  “In addition, the majority of estimated drinking water exposures from currently registered uses, including water exposures from non-food uses, continue to exceed safe levels even taking into account more refined drinking water exposures. “ To explain the decision to the public, EPA has put together a FAQ page on its website. EPA’s proposal to revoke chlorpyrifos’ food tolerances stems from a petition and lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North American nearly ten […]

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In Letter to EPA on Atrazine Hazards, House Republicans Challenge Science, Call the Weedkiller Safe

Monday, November 7th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides,  November 7,  2016) In a letter  last week on the widely used weedkiller  atrazine, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) and 105 of his colleagues told Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that, “It would be irresponsible to greatly restrict one of the safest and most trusted herbicides on the market.” The  letter was triggered by EPA’s release in June of its  draft  Ecological Risk Assessment on atrazine, which found levels of concerns exceeded by as much as 200-fold for some organisms. Lawmakers indicated that the draft assessment in its present form, “Would have a significant impact on farmers and rural communities nationwide.” Despite a wealth of information to the contrary, they claim that restricting the use of atrazine would put an unnecessary financial burden on farmers. Atrazine, produced by Syngenta,  is the second-most widely used pesticide in the U.S., with over 73 million pounds applied each year. While Rep. Buck claims that atrazine is a safe chemical, years of research shows that the chemical poses unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.  Once applied, the chemical often washes into surface water and leaches into groundwater. Water contamination issues spurred community water utilities  across the […]

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U.S. House Committee Wages War on Finding that Monsanto’s Glyphosate (Roundup) Causes Cancer

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2016) Last week, in a calculated attack on the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC), the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform summoned the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to answer questions about taxpayer contributions to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer agency. From reports, it is easy to gather that the committee has problems with IARC scientists’ findings that glyphosate, among other things, is a probable  carcinogen. Led by Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the hearing is  clearly aimed at  undermining IARC’s March 2015 listing of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity  found in laboratory studies. Set to take place in private, limiting any opportunity for public oversight, the hearing will consist of NIH officials answering questions on the scientific processes and public funding from politically-charged committee investigators. If Rep. Chaffetz is persuasive in this rouse against science, he stands to put in jeopardy  a significant amount funding for IARC provided by NIH, a devastating outcome for individuals who value the importance of IARC’s work in the scientific community. Glyphosate, which is produced and sold as RoundupTM  by Monsanto, has been touted by industry and EPA […]

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Over Two Million Bees Killed after Aerial Mosquito Spraying in South Carolina

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2016) Last Sunday, beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina emerged from their homes to find their yards and  farms, once full of busy buzzing, littered with the honey bees. The cause was no mystery — a massive bee-kill had occurred due to aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic  insecticide used primarily to control adult mosquitoes. The county announced plans to spray two days before the incident, when four travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in the area by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The spraying occurred between 6:30 and 8:30am. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide with the highest acute toxicity of any mosquitocide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled can cause cholinesterase (an enzyme necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses) inhibition in humans, meaning that it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Naled is highly toxic to honey bees. In Dorchester County, beekeepers say that the spray announcements did not come soon enough. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply lost more than 2.3 million insects from 46 hives, according to co-owner Juanita […]

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Fighting Zika – Growing Concerns over Pesticide Resistance

Friday, August 5th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2016) Concerned health officials in Miami, Florida are investigating suspicions that Zika-spreading mosquitoes have become resistant to the pesticides commonly used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used in mosquito control. As the region works to contain a Zika outbreak in northern Miami, officials are beginning to recognize that broadcast pesticide applications are not effective at controlling populations, and are looking into cases in the U.S.  and in other parts of the world of mosquitoes developing resistance to chemical controls, or whether other factors are at work. At the same, the broadcasting of the pesticides by truck and plane and the resulting exposure to people and the environment also raise serious health issues. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water, is the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although there are reports that the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Zika virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. However, locally […]

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Mixtures of Multiple Pesticide Ingredients in Products Not Evaluated by EPA for Elevated Toxicity

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2016) An investigative report released yesterday by Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) concludes  that, over the past six years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved nearly 100 pesticide products with chemical mixtures that elevate the formulations’  toxicity, but are not specifically evaluated  by the agency. CBD finds that these formulations add  more stress to already-jeopardized pollinators and rare plants. The report Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails, highlights a long-running blind spot within EPA’s pesticide evaluation program, which Beyond Pesticides has long sounded the alarm on: the risk associated with combining mixtures of different pesticide active ingredients, which independent science shows may be more toxic than a single active ingredient by itself, also known as pesticide synergism. The mixtures occur as a result of multiple ingredients in individual products or  because of exposure to multiple pesticide product residues in food, air, water, and land areas, such as lawns, playing fields, and parks. “It’s alarming to see just how common it’s been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment,” said Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the CBD, and author of […]

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Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2016) Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure. Chemical Class Type Example Pesticides Carbamates Insecticide Carbaryl, Aldicarb Organochlorine Insecticide DDT, Endosulfan, Chlordane Organophosphates Insecticide Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos Organotins Biocide Tributyltin Phosphonoglycines Herbicide Glyphosate, Glufosinate Pyrethroids Insecticide Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Esfenvalerate Triazines Herbicide Atrazine, Simazine The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about […]

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California to List Atrazine and Other Triazine Weedkillers to Prop 65 as Reproductive Toxicants

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2016) California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has announced that atrazine, its chemical cousins,  propazine,  simazine,  and its break down triazine compounds des-ethyl atrazine (DEA),  des-isopropyl atrazine (DIA)  and  2,4-diamino-6-chloro-s-triazine (DACT)  would be added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity for purposes of the state’s Proposition 65. The formal listing has been delayed and will not be effective until July 15, 2016 due to litigation from the manufacturer, Syngenta, which opposes the listing. In 2014 the state announced its Notice of Intent to list the triazines: atrazine, propazine, simazine and their breakdown products under Proposition 65 — the state’s law on toxic chemicals. The listing of these chemicals was initially to be effective on August 3, 2015. However, Syngenta, manufacturer of atrazine, challenged the listing decision, leading to a delay in the formal decision. Syngenta Crop Protection v OEHHA  (Sacramento Superior Court case#34-2014-800001868). Syngenta’s challenge was unsuccessful and now the official listing can move forward, in spite of Syngenta’s pending appeal. The six chemicals will now be known as reproductive toxicants in the state of California effective July 15, 2016. See listing notice. http://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/crnr/listingnoticetriazines070516.pdf Proposition 65, officially […]

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CDC, EPA Urge Aerial Mosquito Spraying in Puerto Rico Amid Protest

Monday, July 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2016) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Wednesday, July 6 that Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, and recommends aerial spraying of the toxic pesticide Naled for mosquito control, much to the dismay of many area farmers, activists and concerned citizens who feel that the decision was made without consultation or information provided to the local population. Aerial spraying of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many experts believe that these methods fail to sufficiently manage mosquito populations, increase pesticide resistance, and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Many experts  agree that combating mosquito-borne diseases should include good surveillance and scientific understanding for controlling mosquito populations, including a focus on  eliminating or managing  breeding areas,  utilizing  biological controls, exclusion from indoor environments with screening, and repellents. An efficient mosquito management strategy emphasizes public awareness, prevention, and monitoring methods. However, if these methods are not used properly or in time, communities must determine if they should risk exposing vulnerable populations to potentially harmful diseases caused by mosquitoes or to chronic or deadly illnesses caused by […]

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Government Lacks Data on Widespread Herbicide Use on Public Lands

Friday, July 8th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2016) Researchers at the University of Montana (UM) recently released a study that found a lack of government data and accountability on  the use of herbicides on public lands to kill invasive and non-native plants. The report raises serious questions about the widespread management practice, which the researchers say may be causing more harm than good. UM researchers, Cara Nelson, Ph.D. and Viktoria Wagner, Ph.D., along with two researchers from Canada, looked at government agencies and agricultural statistics companies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to find their data. The study found that the government agencies in Canada and Mexico kept no archived database of herbicide usage for invasive plant management. In the U.S., five out of seven agencies that were contacted by the researchers tracked herbicide usage, and only four of those agencies shared their data. These agencies include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees 193 million acres in the U.S., declined to share its data on herbicide use. The report found that even the agencies that did share their data did not consistently archive information on the […]

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Public Comment Needed to End Atrazine Use after EPA Confirms Threat to Wildlife

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2016) With years of data documenting the harmful impacts of the herbicide atrazine on aquatic organisms and other wildlife, a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment now concludes that this widely used chemical poses risks to fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and even birds, reptiles and mammals. Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor with strong associations with birth defects, sex reversal and hermaphroditism in organisms, and whose risk to environmental and human health is exacerbated by pervasive surface, ground and drinking water contamination. Last week, EPA released its triazine ecological risk assessments for atrazine and its chemical cousins simazine, and propazine. The assessments evaluated risks to animals and plants including, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plant communities, and terrestrial plants.  EPA is currently in the registration review process for these chemicals. For atrazine, EPA concludes, “aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risks to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrate in these same locations. In the terrestrial environment, there are risk concerns for mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and plant communities across the country for many of the atrazine uses.” Levels of concerns were […]

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Study Finds Honey Bees Frequently Collect Contaminated Pollen from Non-Crop Plants

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2016) A study  by researchers at Purdue University has concluded  that honey bees collect most of their pollen from non-crop plants that are frequently contaminated with agricultural and urban pesticides. The researchers found this to be true even in places where croplands dominate the area.  The study, which detected neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, fungicides, and others, highlights the large number of toxic pesticides to which bees are exposed to in the environment. Researchers collected pollen from Indiana honey bee hives at three sites over 16 weeks. The hives were placed in a variety of settings, such as an open meadow with wildflowers, woody shrubs and trees present (non-agricultural), the border of a corn field that was treated with the neonicotinoid clothianidin and three fungicides, and the border of a non-treated corn field. The pollen samples that were collected by the bees represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes. The researchers found 29 pesticides in pollen from the meadow site, 29 pesticides in pollen from the treated cornfield, and 31 pesticides in pollen from the untreated cornfield. The most common chemical products found in pollen from each site were fungicides and […]

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FDA Deliberating Release of GE Mosquitoes in Florida Keys

Friday, May 27th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) Oxitec, a self-described pioneer in using advanced genetics to control target  insects, has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency approval of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Oxitec has proposed a trial to determine the efficacy of their self-limiting mosquitoes for the control of Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito known to transmit the Zika virus, in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida. However, some in the environmental community are concerned about the possible non-target effects of releasing these genetically modified mosquitoes into nature and urge additional research in the lab. The plan for a release of these GE mosquitoes has been in the works for a while. In February 2015, it was reported that the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) was working alongside Oxitec to release these GE mosquitoes, but, at the time, the plan had not yet been finalized. A change.org petition against the release garnered over 146,000 signatures and continues to grow, with numbers around 168,000 to this date. In February 2016, Oxitec submitted a draft environmental assessment to FDA, and a month later, FDA published a preliminary finding of no […]

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