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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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Neonicotinoid Insecticides Affect Bee Reproduction

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2016)   Led by the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern, new research finds evidence that two commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides have a significant adverse effect on the reproductive ability of male honey bees (drones) and queen bees in managed and wild colonies. The study,  Neonicotinoid insecticides can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives, published in  Royal Society Journal Proceedings B, focuses on the differences in lifespan and viability of sperm throughout exposed and unexposed drones. Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have incurred ongoing and rapid population declines from hive abandonment and bee die-off in a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).  Neonicotinoids, such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, have been found by  a growing body of scientific literature  to be linked to the CCD phenomenon and  pollinator decline in general. While science has become increasingly clear that these  pesticides  play a critical role in contributing to  the ongoing decline of bee health, this is one of the first to look at how these chemicals specifically effect the fertility of male honeybees. In the study, scientists randomly assigned honeybee colonies consisting of drones […]

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Designated Pollinator Habitat Areas Still Put Pollinators At Risk

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2016) Farmers and land managers across the U.S. are being encouraged to plant pollinator habitat adjacent to farmlands to provide shelter and food for pollinator species. But according to a new study published last week, these conservation areas still put bees at risk for pesticide contamination, as they fail to provide spatial or temporal relief. This study emphasizes that meaningful solutions to reversing pollinator decline does not lie with focusing on planting pollinator habitat, but ensuring that these refuge areas are free from pesticide contamination, highly toxic to bees and other pollinators, and reducing the reliance on toxic chemical inputs in agriculture and other landscapes. The study, “Neonicotinoid-contaminated pollinator strips adjacent to cropland reduce honey bee nutritional status,” finds that pollinator habitat adjacent to agricultural areas not only becomes a source for pesticide, especially neonicotinoid, exposures, but also poses significant risk to honey bees. The authors, Christina Mogren, PhD, and former USDA entomologist, Jonathan Lundgren, PhD, initially sought to study whether increasing forage by planting pollinator habitat in an agricultural-dominated region would serve to buffer against the harmful effects of plant-incorporated pesticides. However, the authors note that it soon became apparent that the unintended consequence was […]

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Howard County, MD, Plans to Ban Neonics on Parklands

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2016) In a move that goes one step further than the recently passed state-wide bill restricting consumer sales of neonicotinoid (neonics) products, Howard County, Maryland has taken the initiative to restrict the use of neonicotinoids on parklands. The new policy, announced June 16, cites the growing number of studies linking neonicotinoid use to adverse effects on pollinator species. The Department of Recreation and  Parks (DRP) manages approximately 10,000 acres of parkland within Howard County. According to the new policy and procedure, DRP is restricting the use of neonicotinoids, “due to recent research suggesting that there is a link between pesticides that contain neonicotinoids negatively effecting populations of pollinator species, such as; honeybees, native bees, butterflies, moths and other insects.” Neonics were often used on parklands for grubs on turf, Japanese beetles on trees,  and aphids on flowers and are now prohibited on all County parkland, including sports fields, garden plots, golf course and open space. Exemptions exist for agricultural uses and invasive pest infestations. Read the new neonicotinoid policy. Just this past May, Maryland officially became the first state in the nation to pass legislation  against neonicotinoids. The state legislature passed the  Maryland Pollinator Protection Act […]

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Help Protect Pollinators Today, Earth Day

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2016) Today is Earth Day! As honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer from staggering global declines, Beyond Pesticides works year-round through the BEE Protective campaign, launched Earth Day 2013, to support nationwide local action aimed at protecting pollinators from pesticides. Pollinators are a vital part of the environment, a barometer for healthy ecosystems, and critical to the nation’s food production system. With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other species for pollination, the decline of honey bees and other pollinators demands swift action. The BEE Protective campaign includes a variety of educational materials to help encourage municipalities, campuses, and individual homeowners to adopt policies and practices that protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticide applications and create pesticide-free refuges for these critical  organisms. In addition to scientific and regulatory information, BEE Protective also assists people and communities with  a model community pollinator resolution and a pollinator protection pledge. Insecticides, specifically neonicotinoids, have increasingly been linked to bee declines. These chemicals are used extensively in U.S. agriculture, especially as seed treatment for corn and soybeans. Agriculture is not the only concern however, as pesticide applications in home gardens, city parks, […]

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Multiple Pesticides Detected in Poisoned Bees

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2016) European researchers found  over 50 different types of pesticides in honey bees while  investigating more than 70 honey bee poisoning incidents. Their study, which detected neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, fipronil, and others, highlights the large number of toxic pesticides to which bees are exposed in the environment from agricultural fields to  home gardens. The study results add to the body of knowledge connecting bee poisoning to pesticide exposure. The study, which is a multi-residue analysis to determine pesticides in honey bees   from poisoning incidents, was published in the Journal of Chromatography by a team of researchers from the National Veterinary Research Institute in Poland.   57 pesticides were found in 73 samples of poisoned honey bees, with four pesticides on average, and up to 13 determined simultaneously in a honey bee sample. The compounds detected include 21 insecticides and their metabolites, 20 fungicides, 12 herbicides, 2 acaricides and 2 veterinary medicinal products metabolites.  Among them, metabolites of imidacloprid, thiacloprid, fipronil, methiocarb and amitraz were found. Chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, dimethoate, and tebuconazole were most frequently detected. Of the herbicides detected only MCPA, 2,4-D and prosulfocarb were determined more than once. The authors believe that the study  results contribute […]

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GAO Report Finds USDA, EPA Not Doing Enough to Protect Pollinators

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2016) Executive agencies are falling short in their efforts to protect honey bees and other wild pollinators from catastrophic declines, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO, an investigative agency that works on behalf of the U.S. Congress, was tasked by the Senate to evaluate the progress the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have made in their actions to address the multiple threats contributing to declining managed and wild pollinators. Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have experienced unsustainable colony die-offs, averaging over 30% each year. Concurrent declines in wild and native pollinators are also occurring, though data on the magnitude of these losses have not undergone comprehensive scientific evaluation. While a range of factors, from habitat loss, to climate change, diseases, viruses, and parasites are all contributing to these declines, independent science has identified that pesticides, specifically a new class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, are the major drivers of the crisis for both managed and wild bees. In fact, some studies show that the widespread exposure to neonicotinoids increases bees’ vulnerability to diseases, viruses, and mites. The GAO report recommends a number of action items […]

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Study Blames Pollinator Decline on Disease, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Pointing to Bee-Killing Pesticides

Friday, February 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2015) A new study published last week asserts a viral epidemic driven by parasitic mites is contributing to the global decline in bees, problematically underplaying the significant impact that bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides have on pollinator populations, as supported by a growing body of scientific literature, especially findings that show bees’ increased vulnerability to parasites and viruses. Researchers of the study, titled “Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites” and published in the journal Science, conclude that the deformed wing virus (DWV), which is typically transmitted through its main vector, the Varroa mite, is globally distributed and recently spread from a common source, European honeybee Apis mellifera. Lead researcher Lena Bayer-Wilfert, PhD, of the University of Exeter, said European bees are at the heart of the global spread of what she calls a “double blow” for colonies. “This is clearly linked to the human movement of honey bee colonies around the globe,” she told BBC News. Co-researcher Professor Roger Butlin of the University of Sheffield said DWV was a major threat to honey bee populations across the world with the epidemic “driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.” […]

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Major Supermarket Bans Bee-Toxic Pesticides in Produce Production

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

 (Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2016) Aldi Süd, the German supermarket chain with stores in the U.S., has become the first major European retailer to ban pesticides toxic to bees, including the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, from fruits and vegetables produced for their stores. Aldi has requested suppliers comply at the earliest possible time. In light of the growing pollinator crisis and due to public pressure, retailers in Europe and the U.S. are slowly beginning to make the switch away from bee-toxic pesticides. Beginning January 1, suppliers of fruits and vegetables to Aldi suppliers will have to ensure that their cultivation practices do not include the following eight pesticides identified as toxic to bees (thiamethoxam, chlorpyrifos,  clothianidin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fipronil, imidacloprid and sulfoxaflor) to meet  the new requirement. According to a press release from Greenpeace, the chemicals are used on various commodities in Europe  —thiamethoxam (used in lettuce and endive), chlorpyrifos, clothianidin (used in kohlrabi, herbs, Brussels sprouts, head cabbage, cauliflower and kale), cypermethrin (leek, head cabbage and leguminous vegetables), deltamethrin (cauliflower, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, pea, head cabbage, tomato and lettuce),  imidacloprid (applied to apples, peaches, apricots and lettuce). Sulfoxaflor was recently granted regulatory approval in Europe, despite calls […]

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Herbicide (Dicamba) Drift Adversely Affects Non-Target Pollinators and Plants

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2015) Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture published a study, which found that aerial drift of the herbicide dicamba adversely affects non-target plants and pollinator species. Dicamba is a chlorinated benzoic acid herbicide associated with neurotoxicity and reproductive effects. The study used alfalfa crops to track the flowering and floral visitation by insects, specifically pollinators, after applications of sublethal doses of dicamba. The researchers concluded, “Our results suggest that widespread non-target damage from these herbicides may adversely affect pollinator communities.” Because dicamba is “frequently responsible for sublethal, off-target damage” to plants and insects, Penn State researchers assessed the most common route of exposure: particle and vapor drift. In its  study, Effects of the Herbicide Dicamba on Nontarget Plants and Pollinator Visitation, the research team examined the crop species alfalfa (Medicago sativa), which requires insect pollination to produce seeds, and the native plant species common  boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), which is highly attractive to a wide range of pollinator species. The researchers applied a range of sublethal doses of dicamba to the plants, then tracked flowering and floral visitation by insect species. They identified the types of insects visiting the […]

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Studies Add to Mounting Evidence of Neonic Dangers

Monday, November 30th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2015) Last week, two studies were published that link neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide exposure to detrimental effects in bees and butterflies. The first study, published in the international scientific journal Nature, found that bumblebees exposed to neonics suffered pollination services impairment that reduces their delivery to apple crops. The second study, published in the United Kingdom journal Peer J, used over 1,000 sites cataloged from 1984 to 2012 in the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) database to point to the strong association between neonic use and butterfly population decline. These studies contribute to the mounting evidence that neonic insecticides are linked to pollinator decline. Neonics have increasingly been the subject of recent studies that highlight a causal relationship between neonic exposure  and harmful effects to pollinators, like foraging and reproductive complications. These effects are being identified by scientists all over the world, gradually negating industry criticism of study design. Andre Gilburn, PhD, and ecologist at the University of Stirling, led the butterfly study. He said, “Our study not only identifies a worrying link between the use of neonicotinoids and declines in butterflies, but also suggests that the strength of their impact on many species could be huge.” […]

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French Researchers Solve Discrepancy in Bee-Killing Neonic Studies

Friday, November 20th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2015) French scientists say that they have found the “missing link” between laboratory studies and field studies that assess the adverse effects of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides on bees. The study, published in Royal Society Journal Proceedings B, evaluates the effects of neonics on honey bees in field trials. After 15 years of research into the effects of neonicotinoids on bees, researchers had identified a gap between the results of toxicity assessments on individual bees in the laboratory and  impacts seen at the colony level in the field. The new two-year study made two discoveries: First, they found that field exposure to thiamethoxam combined with imidacloprid contamination is associated with a significant excess mortality in individual free-ranging bees.  Second, while colonies appeared to be able to compensate for the excess mortality and preserve population size and honey production, this was done at the expense of a change in brood laying patterns. Thus, this study provides an explanation for the “missing link” in the discrepancies between labs studies and field studies, where the former establishes harmful and fatal effects that had yet to be replicated in real-life conditions. Because the bees responded to the increased mortality with selective […]

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Native Bees Found to Have Residues of Pesticides Linked to Their Steep Decline

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2015) The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently performed the first-ever study of pesticide residues on native bee populations and found that they are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides, as well as other pesticides, at significant rates. This study digs deeper into a question  that was previously considered by a researcher who  studied chemical-intensive  apple orchards and linked a steep decline in wild or native bees to the application of pesticides. The USGS study  broadens understanding about the effects of toxic pesticides to native bee species, expanding field research that has principally focused on managed honey bee populations. The study tested for 122 different pesticides including bifenthrin, atrazine and chlorpyrifos, a chemical for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed to revoke all food tolerances in response to  a court-ordered deadline. According to study findings, 72% of bees tested positive for pesticide residues, raising concerns for the potential for unintended pesticides exposures where land uses overlap or are in proximity to one another.   Residues of pesticides found in bees in the study include  thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid, all of which are highly toxic neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals that have been linked to the global […]

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Lawsuit Seeks to Stop Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticide Sulfoxaflor in EU

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2015) On the heels of a recent federal court decision that rejected the U.S. registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited inadequate and flawed review of the science on the chemical’s toxicity to bees, European beekeepers filed complaint that that asks the European Court of Justice to take the same action. The complaint  asks the court to cancel sulfoxaflor’s authorization. Sulfoxaflor is a neonicotinoid-like chemical that, like neonicotinoids, is highly toxic to bees. Three of the most widely used neonicotinoids are currently under a two-year European-wide moratorium which began December 2013, due to concerns about risks to bee populations. European beekeepers, Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination, the Italian National Beekeeping Union (UNAAPI), and PAN Europe, filed the complaint which cites a published  negative opinion on Dow AgroScience’s sulfoxaflor by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). According to EFSA, the pesticide is categorized as ”˜highly toxic to bees’ and it identified crucial toxicity data gaps, which according to the beekeepers, makes a proper risk assessment for bees impossible. Despite these facts, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante) and the EU member states authorized sulfoxaflor in July 2015, completely bypassing the pesticide regulation, the complaint […]

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Study Finds Neonics “Severely Affect” Health of Honey Bee Queens

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2015) Exposure to neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides results in profound negative impacts to the health of honey bee queens, according to an international team of researchers led by Geoff Williams, MD, PhD, at the University of Bern in Switzerland. While most studies to date have investigated how neonics effect the health of individual workers or overall colony fitness, Dr. William’s study, Neonicotinoid pesticides severely affect honey bee queens, is one of the first to focus on the health of honey bee queens. Neither the European Union nor U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study the impacts of pesticides on queen health before allowing a pesticide to market. The results of this research are particularly concerning, given widespread anecdotal evidence from beekeepers across the globe that ”˜poor quality queens’ are playing a role in bee declines. To test the impacts of these chemicals on queen honey bees, scientists exposed a sample of 29 queens to field-realistic levels of the neonics  clothianidian and thiamethoxam (1 parts per billion and 4 ppb respectively), and compared them to a population of 28 control queens, which were not treated with neonics. Both groups experienced similar environmental circumstances in terms of food availability, rearing […]

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EPA Seeks Public Opinion on Continued Use of Neurotoxic Organophosphate Pesticides

Friday, October 9th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2015) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released preliminary human health and ecological risk assessments for seven organophosphate pesticides (OPs) and announced the public open comment period for those chemicals. These risk assessments come as a result of the required periodic registration review, as required by  the Federal Insecticide, Fungicides, and Rodenticide Act. In general, OPs are highly toxic and many have been voluntarily removed from the market, considerably restricted, or denied reregistration. Unfortunately, EPA continues to rely on risk mitigation for individual OPs instead of phasing them out altogether. Seven OPs ­ ­—dimethoate, dictrotophos, chloyrophos-methyl, tribufos, terbufos, profenofors, and ethoprop—are among the first wave of chemicals whose preliminary risk assessments have been completed under the registration review program. Each of these was found by EPA to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholine esterase (AchE), which ultimately leads to neurotoxic  central nervous system effects. This information is not new, however. In 2012, University College London found long-term low-level exposure to OPs produces lasting damage to neurological and cognitive functions. In 2013, at least 25 children died after eating school lunches contaminated by OPs. One OP in particular, chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), is currently under petition for the same […]

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Despite Evidence of Harm and Lack of Need, USDA Supports Unrestricted Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2015) In a letter posted to the federal docket, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that it is opposed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposal to restrict pesticides highly toxic to bees on sites where managed bees are present, saying the measure “has not established the need for such a prohibition.” In its position, USDA  cites economic impacts to farmers and lack of a cost/benefit analysis. USDA’s critique of EPA’s proposal contrasts with a decision handed down last week by a federal court that ruled EPA should not ignore risk concerns for bees and rejected the registration of a pesticide known to be highly toxic to bees, highlighting a lack of collaboration and understanding between federal agencies in advancing  pollinator protection. USDA communicated its challenge to EPA despite the growing body of science on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides and findings in Europe that their restriction does not undermine crop productivity. Last May,  EPA announced a new proposal  to temporarily prohibit foliar applications of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees during plant bloom and when managed bees are on site and under contract. The proposal received a mixed response, with many from […]

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Minneapolis, MN Passes Organic, Pollinator-Friendly Resolution

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2015) Last Friday, the City Council of Minneapolis, MN unanimously passed a resolution declaring Minneapolis a pollinator-friendly community and urging city residents to take steps to protect dwindling pollinator populations. A groundswell of public support from a wide range of local and national groups, including Beyond Pesticides, resulted in swift passage of the resolution, the latest in a long string of local government action to safeguard pollinators from harmful pesticides, as federal proposals fail to address the magnitude of the crisis. “With the passage of today’s resolution, Minneapolis is now doing its part in the global effort to protect and grow the pollinator populations,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said to CBS Minnesota. The resolution, introduced and written by Councilmember Cam Gordon, assigns a number of bee safe actions to various city departments. While the Health Department’s Environmental Services Unit will maintain a list of pollinator-friendly plants, the Community Planning and Economic Development Department and Property Services Division of the City Coordinator’s office will create habitat for local pollinators. The Minneapolis Public Works Department will pursue both increased bee habitat and adopt clear guidelines against the use of pesticides, including but not limited to systemic neonicotinoid  (“neonic”) insecticides, […]

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Bee-Killing Pesticides Ubiquitous in Pollen Samples During Honey Bee Forage Season

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2015) Data published from the Harvard School of Public Health reveals  neonicotinoids (neonics), a class of chemicals implicated in the global decline of honey bees and other pollinators, in over 70% of both pollen and honey samples collected throughout the state of Massachusetts during months when bees are most actively foraging. The results of this study have grave  implications for pollinator health, as even minute, near-infinitesimal doses of neonics can cause sublethal impacts that compromise the health of entire bee colonies. The Harvard study, led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu, PhD, and published in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry, took monthly honey and pollen samples from 62 volunteered bee hives between April and August 2013. The 219 pollen and 53 honey samples were then analyzed for the presence of eight neonic insecticides. Every month, in every location, researchers found neonics in the pollen and honey collected by bees. In total, 73% of pollen samples and 72% of honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid at levels which could result in sublethal harm. While previous studies have tested the presence of neonics at a single point in time, this is the first study to show the long-term persistence […]

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