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Researchers Developing New Methods to Detect Pesticide Contamination in Bee Hives

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2020) With honey bees around the world under threat from toxic pesticide use, researchers are investigating a new way to track environmental contaminants in bee hives. This new product, APIStrip (Adsorb Pesticide In-hive Strip), can be placed into bee hives and act as a passive sampler for pesticide pollution. Honey bees are sentinel species for environmental pollutants, and this new technology could provide a helpful way not only for beekeepers to pinpoint problems with their colonies, but also track ambient levels of pesticide pollution in a community. According to a study published by an international team of researchers, APIStrip has the potential to detect 442 pesticides as well as their primary break down products at levels lover than parts per billion. The strip, comprised of polymer, is what scientists describe as “a bee-proof, in-hive passive sampler.” Current methods of sampling honey bee hives for contaminants is time-consuming, requiring removal of bees, pollen, honey or beeswax, and can result in significant hive disturbance. This new method was piloted by citizen-science beekeepers, and according to researchers proved to be a simple and effective tool that any interested citizen-scientist could employ. Passive sampling of environmental contaminants by citizen scientists […]

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Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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EPA Gives Go-Ahead for Mass Poisoning of Fox, Coyote, and other Wildlife Predators

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2019) Thousands of fox, coyote, and other carnivores will continue to be poisoned to death by hydrogen cyanide after the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-approved the use of M-44 “cyanide bombs” earlier this month. Cyanide bombs are essentially small, poison-filled land mines baited with food and placed on rural land with the intent of killing predators that prey on grazing livestock.  “EPA is blatantly ignoring its fundamental duty to protect the public, our pets and native wildlife from the cruel, lethal impacts of cyanide bombs lurking on our public lands,” said Kelly Nokes, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). “We will continue to hold our federal government accountable to the law, and will continue our fight for a ban on M-44s once and for all.” After denying a petition to ban the products last year, the agency delayed a decision to reregister M-44s in response to over 20,000 public comments, 99.9% of which opposed renewal, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity and WELC. Despite overwhelming public opposition, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is renewing the products with only minor changes to the labels that govern their use. The […]

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Take Action: Bring Back Scientific Integrity to Government Decisions

Monday, December 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2019) Although the influence of regulated corporations has historically silenced science that threatens profits – as shown by industry reaction to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – attacks on science in federal agencies have increased in the Trump administration. EPA has dismissed findings of scientists concerning chlorpyrifos, atrazine, and synthetic pyrethroids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has discontinued collecting data on honeybees. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to designate critical habitat for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. Tell your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, and thank those who already have cosponsored. H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, was introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, in an effort to restore scientific integrity to government agency decision-making. The bill begins with the premise that “science and the scientific process should inform and guide public policy decisions on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, and protection of national security.” It prohibits scientific misconduct, suppression of scientific findings, intimidation of researchers, and creation of barriers to communicating scientific or technical findings. It limits the actions an agency may take in the process of approving dissemination of scientific results and gives individual researchers […]

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Study Finds EU Moratorium of Persistent Bee-Toxic Pesticides Cannot Eliminate Short-Term Hazards

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2019) Five years after three neonicotinoids were banned for use on bee-attractive crops in the EU, researchers found that these bee-toxic chemicals are contaminating soils and poisoning the nectar of oilseed rape (canola). The results of this research point to an immediate need to end the use of persistent environmental contaminants and promote organic practices. Researchers set out to determine whether the EU moratorium eliminated the risk for bees that forage on oilseed rape nectar. They tested for imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin residues in the nectar of winter-sown oilseed rape in from 291 oilseed rape fields in western France for five years following the EU moratorium (2014-2018). Results show all three neonicotinoids were present at least once in the study’s time period. Imidacloprid was detected every year with “no clear declining trend,” though its prevalence fluctuated widely between years. Two samples from 2016 show residues that are five times the expected maximum concentration in nectar of a plant directly treated with imidacloprid. Residue levels in the nectar depend on soil type and increase with rainfall. The researchers put forth in their discussion that the imidacloprid contamination may likely be caused by runoff from neighboring, treated plants. […]

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EPA Inspector General Report Finds the Agency Falling Short in Oversight of State Pollinator Plans

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2019) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report criticizing EPA’s oversight of states’ Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). OIG conducted an audit, on which the report is based, to evaluate agency performance in overseeing MP3s, voluntary plans adopted at the state level with the goal to “reduce pesticide exposure to pollinators (generally, honey bees managed and contracted out to growers for pollination services) through timely communication and coordination among key stakeholders.” The report’s findings include the following: EPA has no means to evaluate the national impact of MP3s. The agency has not developed a strategy to use data from a planned fall 2019 survey (see more below on the AAPCO/SFIREG/EPA survey) to evaluate either the national impact of MP3s or the agency’s support of state MP3 implementation efforts. EPA focuses primarily on acute risks (those that occur during a single exposure to a specific pesticide), and gives insufficient attention to chronic exposures to pesticides and to native pollinator protection activities. The history of the MP3 program starts in 2014, when President Obama issued a memo establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force (PHTF), directing federal agencies […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agriculture Contributes to Severe Monarch Butterfly Decline through Milkweed Contamination

Monday, July 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019) Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor — exposure during monarchs’ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research team’s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, “Although seed treatment data are no longer reported for U.S. […]

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Flight Distance of Bumblebees Impaired by Pesticide, Leads to 87% Decline in Accessible Forage Area

Monday, May 6th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2019) Beleaguered pollinators deal with a multitude of human-engineered threats: habitat fragmentation and loss via development and agricultural intensification, ecosystems and food sources tainted with toxic synthetic pesticides, and shrinking food sources via habitat and biodiversity loss. Research out of the Imperial College of London shows that such challenges are exacerbated, for bumblebees, by another impact of pesticide exposure — impaired flight endurance and dynamics. Published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in late April, ”Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduced flight endurance in bumblebees” examines how acute exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid affects the nature of bumblebee foraging flight. The study’s researchers find that worker bumblebees so exposed exhibit significant diminishment of flight endurance — measured as both distance and duration — to approximately one-third of what control workers demonstrate. This new information, aggregated with the many other factors that threaten pollinators, points to the importance of ending the use of chemical controls, such as the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, and transitioning to organic systems of agricultural pest management that do not rely on toxic compounds that harm wildlife, ecosystems, water resources, and humans. Previous research has shown numerous impacts of pesticide exposure on bumblebees, and of neonicotinoid exposure, in […]

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Despite Safety Claims, Insecticide Flupyradifurone Is Bee-Toxic on Its Own and Worse in Combination

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2019)  A neurotoxic pesticide labeled “bee-safe” has been found to be harmful to bees, according to a new study. Flupyradifurone (FPF), the subject of the study, is a novel chemical that was hastily registered in the wake of public awareness about the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees. A systemic insecticide and a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonist, it functions in the same way as a neonicotinoid, though it is in the butanolide family. “Lethal and sublethal synergistic effects of a new systemic pesticide, flupyradifurone (SivantoÂŽ), on honeybees,” not only debunks the myth that FPF is safe on its own, it also delves into the FPF’s synergistic effects with a commonly used fungicide propiconazole (PRO). PRO, on its own, has no impact on bee mortality. A rarely studied realm of pesticides, the study defines a synergistic effect as, “when combined exposure to two factors results in an effect that is significantly greater than the sum of individual effects.” Researchers manipulated six healthy honey bee (Apis mellifera ligutica) colonies and observed the impact of varying amounts of pesticide exposure, including both individual and synergistic effects, on behavior and mortality. They recorded data over seasons and between worker […]

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Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Friday, April 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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Regulations to Protect Bees Fall Short, Scientists Call for More Attention to Native Bees

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2019) It is news to approximately no one that pollinators are in trouble worldwide. A series of papers by biologists at the University of Guelph, Ontario, posits that pesticide regulations aimed at protection of honey bees fall far short of the critical task of protecting the multitude of bee species that are important pollinators of human food crops. These recent papers arose from 2017 workshops that involved 40 bee researchers from various universities, and representatives from Canadian, U.S., and European regulatory agencies, and from the agrochemical industry. Beset by shrinking habitat, pathogens, and toxic chemical exposures, bee pollinator populations are at great risk, even as “‘our dependency on insect-pollinated crops is increasing and will continue to do so as the global population rises,’ said [Professor Nigel] Raine, [PhD], [a] co-author of all three papers recently published in the journal Environmental Entomology. . . . Protecting wild pollinators is more important now than ever before. Honeybees alone simply cannot deliver the crop pollination services we need.” There are, in fact, more than 20,000 bee species worldwide, and 3,500–5,000 bee species in North America alone. Although regulators across many countries have focused narrowly on assessing the risk of pesticides to honey bees, many […]

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Bees’ Medicine Chest Should Include Sunflower Pollen, Study Finds

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2018) A study published last month in Scientific Reports finds that eating sunflower pollen significantly reduces protozoan infection in bumblebees. Studying ecosystem services and what she calls “floral rewards,” evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says sunflowers may provide a long sought after solution for improving bees’ immune system response to both disease and parasites. The researchers studied the protozoan Crithidia bombi, a common parasitic infection of bumble bees, known to impair learning and foraging, shorten lifespan and destabilize colony hierarchies by impacting queen bee behavior. From the outset of the study, Dr. Adler says, “the more sunflowers were grown at the farm, the lower the Crithidia load for the bees at that farm.” Knowing pollinators eat pollen as a source of protein and healthy fats, Dr. Adler hypothesized that both pollen and nectar might have medicinal effects against disease and parasites. However, her experiment did not show consistent results with nectar. After bees in the lab were starved for 4-6 hours, researchers fed individual worker bees from small colonies a drop of fructose fluid containing 6,000 Crithidia cells, being the approximate concentration bees may encounter in the wild while foraging. After […]

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EPA Considers 300,000-Acre Expansion of Bee-Toxic Pesticide

Friday, October 19th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2018) Pollinator advocates and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are imploring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Bayer CropScience’s application for use of “Sivanto,”a pesticide product with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, a chemical the company claims is safer for bees, but poses the same risks at the notorious bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. If approved, Sivanto would be sprayed in tobacco-growing states along 300,000 acres in the southeast U.S., areas home to more than three dozen species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Bayer’s proposal for expanded uses comes after EPA’s own assessment indicated risks to endangered species, and despite the fact that the agency has not undergone an ESA mandated consultation with federal wildlife agencies. For the countless flying insects, birds, and bats already under significant threat from neonicotinoids, adding another systemic insecticide to the mix will only make the situation worse. Bayer AG is characterizing flupyradifurone as being harmless to honeybees. However, flupyradifurone, being a systemic pesticide, can negatively impact many non-target species.  In fact, flupyradifurone impacts honey bee brains in a similar way to neonicotinoids, as it impairs learning, memory and the honey bees’ affinity for nectar rewards. Advocates worry that growing […]

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Study Finds Bumblebees Increasingly Attracted to the Pesticides that Kill Them

Friday, August 31st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2018) Given the choice to forage on untreated or pesticide-contaminated food sources, bees will increasingly choose the pesticide, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in late August. The data indicate that risks to pollinators grow, rather than wane, over time, making improved regulation over bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides even more climacteric. In essence, the study indicates that bees may be undertaking the human equivalent of chain-smoking themselves to death. Authors of the study note that numerous studies have been performed that subject bees to neonicotinoid-treated food, however this research generally allows pollinators to only forage on contaminated sources. While this provides important information on hazard criteria, it does not indicate risk of exposure. Positing the idea that pollinators may eventually seek to avoid neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar, researchers provided bumblebee colonies with a choice over the course of 10 days. At the start, the bees exhibited no discernable preference between toxic and nontoxic food. However, as time went on more and more bees fed from nectar laced with thiamethoxam, a widely used neonicotinoid. By the end of the experiment, food containing 2 parts per billion of the pesticide was eaten 10% more than in […]

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Kroger Sets 2020 Phase-Out of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on Its Plants, Costco Encourages Suppliers to Change; Both Commit to Carry More Organic

Friday, June 29th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2018) It is widely known that pollinators are in trouble. In light of this, Kroger (which includes numerous other grocery chains, like Harris Teeter) announced in a press release last week — during National Pollinator Week —  a phase-out by 2020 of live garden plants treated with the insecticides most closely associated with the decline of bee populations, the neonicotinoids. In May, Costco updated its pollinator policy, which “encourages” its suppliers of garden plants, fruits, and vegetables to limit the use of bee-toxic pesticides and adopt ecological practices. The company in 2016 announced a policy to encourage suppliers to change their pesticides. In a statement that has broad implications for pollinator and environmental protection, Kroger included the following statement about organic food in its press release: “Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a growing selection of organic fruits and vegetables.” Costco is also […]

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Secrecy of Pesticide Safety Data and Ingredients Does Not Protect Public Health and the Environment

Monday, May 14th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2018) Under EPA Administrator Pruitt’s proposed “transparency” plan, the public will still lack access to key data about the effects and efficacy of commercial poisons approved for sale and application in their communities and homes. Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides! The proposed policy, posted on April 30 in the Federal Register, declares that it will “help ensure that EPA is pursuing its mission of public health and the environment in a manner that the public can trust and understand,” yet it applies only to a very limited set of studies used to support certain EPA regulations. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency, opportunity for public review, and access to data. Because pesticides are toxic chemicals broadcast into the environment, nowhere is transparency more important than in pesticide registration. The proposed new policy does not cover pesticide registrations, warning labels, use restrictions, or proof of effectiveness. In the current process, the pesticide manufacturer produces the underlying data for these EPA approvals and controls access to them. Thus, despite Pruitt’s sweeping claims of “transparency in regulatory science”: The public does not have access to the underlying data provided by the manufacturer […]

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Pesticide Safety Data Transparency a Blind Spot under EPA Policy

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2018) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s controversial plan for disclosing the underlying data supporting its regulatory science has a big blind spot –pesticides.  An analysis released today by Beyond Pesticides and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) points out that under Pruitt’s plan the public will still lack access to key data about the effects and efficacy of commercial poisons approved for sale and application in their communities and homes. The proposed policy posted on April 30 in the Federal Register declares that it will “help ensure that EPA is pursuing its mission of public health and the environment in a manner that the public can trust and understand” yet it only applies to a very limited set of studies used to support certain EPA regulations. It does not cover pesticide registrations, warning labels, use restrictions, or proof of effectiveness.  In the current process, the pesticide manufacturer produces the underlying data for these EPA approvals and controls access to it.  Thus, despite Pruitt’s sweeping claims of “transparency in regulatory science” – The public does not have access to the underlying data provided by the manufacturer to justify registering a new pesticide for commercial distribution; Industry […]

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Fungicides Tied to Declining Bumblebee Populations in the United States

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

(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 those in the northern U.S. undergoing the […]

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California Court of Appeal Rejects California’s Approval of Bee-Killing Pesticides

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2017) The First District California Court of Appeal issued an opinion Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging a California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) decision to approve additional uses for two bee-killing pesticides without disclosing the impact on honeybees. Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, and Beyond Pesticides, represented by Earthjustice, filed the underlying lawsuit in 2014, seeking to halt DPR’s practice of approving ever more uses for neonicotinoid pesticides pending completion of the agency’s languishing scientific review of the evidence linking agricultural use of neonicotinoids to a global honeybee die-off. DPR began its scientific review in early 2009 after it received evidence that neonicotinoids are killing bees, but DPR has yet to complete its review or take meaningful action to protect bees. Instead, DPR has continued to allow increased use of neonicotinoids in California. “DPR acknowledged almost 10 years ago that neonicotinoids are killing bees, yet the agency has approved more and more uses for these toxic pesticides every year since,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “It’s time for DPR to do its job and protect honeybees and the multi-billion dollar agricultural economy that bees make possible in this State.” At issue […]

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Urgent/by Monday: Help Stop Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides from Killing Bees and Contaminating Waterways!

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2017) In its recently released 2017 Preliminary Aquatic Risk Assessment for Imidacloprid, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that this neonicotinoid insecticide is not only toxic to bees but also, is destroying life in the nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes. This assessment finds that aquatic invertebrates, especially aquatic insects basic to aquatic food chains, are sensitive to imidacloprid, and that current imidacloprid levels detected in streams, rivers, lakes, and drainage canals exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints. Impacts occur at low concentrations, and can result in decreased species abundance, altered predator-prey relationships, and reduced nutrient cycling. Impacts to other wildlife that depend on these species raise serious cause for concern. Comment by July 24 and tell EPA to cancel these neonicotinoids to protect sensitive species and ecosystems. See sample comment language, below. Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran are too toxic for honey bees and native bees EPA also finds that the other neonicotinoids –clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran– pose risks to bees both on and around treated fields, but the agency has not evaluated risks from soil, surface water, or contaminated seed dust, which underestimates exposure risks and continues to put our native bees at risk. Clothianidin and thiamethoxam are […]

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EPA Finds Risks to Bees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides, Fails to Act Accordingly

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2017) On January 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released major risk assessment documents on  pollinator exposure to bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides finding no significant risks, despite the large and growing body of science identifying the pesticides’ hazards. In the documents, EPA identifies risks posed to bees by several neonicotinoid insecticides, but suggests that no restriction on uses are imminent. In another decision meant to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides, the agency is scaling back its original proposal in deference chemical-intensive agricultural interests. EPA’s long awaited pollinator assessments for the neonicotinoids: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, much like the 2016 pollinator assessment release for imidacloprid, identifies risks to bees from the agricultural applications (foliar, soil and seed) of these chemicals, including from pesticide drift. Observed effects include decline in worker bees, and subsequent declines in brood and pollen stores in the colony. EPA‘s assessments continue to focus on honey bees, with cursory mention of wild, native bees. Once again, the assessments did not consider risks from exposures to contaminated water, guttation droplets, or soil, with EPA stating that, “The Agency lacks information to understand the relative importance of these other routes of exposures and/or to quantify potential risks […]

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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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Pesticides Registered by EPA Alter Honey Bee Microbiome

Friday, August 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2016) A new study by a team of scientists at Virginia Tech finds that commonly used in-hive pesticides result in changes to the honey bee gut microbiome. The study, Honey bee gut microbiome is altered by in-hive pesticide exposures, was led by Virginia Tech associate professor of horticulture, Mark Williams, Ph.D., and colleagues from Oregon State University and North Carolina State University. This research, published several weeks ago in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, aimed to determine the microbiome of honey bees (Apis mellifera) after being exposed to three common pesticides. Coumaphos and tau-fluvalinate, both common miticides used in conventional beekeeping, and chlorothalonil, a fungicide commonly detected in hives, were used as pesticide treatments in the study. While this  research contributes to the already established body of science on the complexity of pesticide exposure effects, beekeepers reported the steepest, and then sustained, declines in honey bee populations after the large  increase in  neonicotinoid pesticide  use in the early 2000’s. Beekeepers nationwide suffered  their highest hive losses of 44.1% in the last national survey from April 2015-2016. While it is likely that neonicotinoids are not the sole factor in pollinator decline, they have been found to exacerbate […]

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