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Soft Drink Company Faces Pressure Over Use of Pesticides in its Supply Chain

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2017) A pesticide reduction plan proposed by investors in the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) lacks a positive vision that could accomplish the investors’ goals. The shareholder proposal at DPS, which makes Mott’s, 7UP, Snapple, and Canada Dry, was filed by the Green Century Equity Fund, a company that offers environmentally and socially responsible mutual funds, seeks to pressure DPS to reduce toxic pesticide use in its supply chain. According to their press release, the shareholder proposal suggests that DPS “use quantitative metrics to track the amount of pesticides avoided, publish goals to reduce pesticide use or toxicity, and/or provide incentives to growers to minimize the use of pesticides.” However, the shareholder group could better achieve its goals by asking that DPS use certified organic ingredients. Beyond Pesticides has long sought a broad-scale marketplace transition that does not simply reduce or minimize pesticide use, but prohibits the application of toxic synthetic pesticides by law and promotes the widespread transition of conventional farmland to organic production, which is protective of health and the environment. Certified organic production, with its requirement of a detailed organic system plan and methods to foster and improve soil health, achieves the elimination […]

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Judge Rules that EPA Neonicotinoid Registrations Violated Endangered Species Act

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2017) On Monday, a federal judge in California ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it issued 59 neonicotinoid insecticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for pesticide products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The original lawsuit against EPA, Ellis v. Housenger, was filed in March 2013, by beekeeper Steve Ellis and a coalition of other beekeepers and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides. The 2013 lawsuit focused on the EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides and challenged EPA’s oversight of the bee-killing pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies. According to George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety’s legal director and the lead plaintiffs’ counsel, “This is a vital victory. Science shows these toxic pesticides harm bees, endangered species and the broader environment. More than fifty years ago, Rachel Carson warned us to avoid such toxic chemicals, and the court’s ruling may bring us one step closer to preventing another Silent Spring.” The judge presiding over the case rejected claims by pesticide producers and their supporters that the plaintiffs failed to establish a causal link between the pesticides and the […]

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Walmart and True Value Pledge to Phase Out Bee-Toxic Pesticide

Friday, May 5th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2017) Walmart and True Value have announced that beginning on Wednesday they will be phasing out neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides from all retail supply chains. These announcements follow numerous scientific studies that have consistently implicated neonics in the decline of honey bees and other wild pollinators. The decision stems from an ongoing consumer and environmental campaigns urging retailers to stop selling plants treated with neonics and to remove products containing them from store shelves. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, or whole plant poisons, taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew drops. They are also highly persistent, with research showing the potential for certain chemicals in the class, such as clothianidin, to have a half-life of up to 15 years. Studies show significant cause for concern when it comes to pollinators and exposure to these pesticides. Although little substantive action on these chemicals has been taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency agreed that the pesticides do harm bees, though only in the limited situations and constrained scenarios that were actually investigated by EPA. The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used […]

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Bumblebee Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Egg Development

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2017) This week, a study released in the Proceedings of the Royal Society found evidence of reduced egg development and impact on feeding behavior in wild bumblebee queens after exposure to the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. The study, led by researchers from the University of London, investigates the impact of field-relevant levels of thiamethoxam exposure on four wild species of bumblebee queens. In a BBC News article, lead author, Dr. Gemma Barron, Ph.D., stated, “We consistently found that neonicotinoid exposure, at levels mimicking exposure that queens could experience in agricultural landscapes, resulted in reduced ovary development in queens of all four species we tested. These impacts are likely to reduce the success of bumblebee queens in the spring, with knock-on effects for bee populations later in the year.” The study focuses on sublethal effects of neonicotinoids, as wild bumblebees are more likely to be exposed to low doses of these chemicals, rather than higher lethal levels. The queen bumblebees of four species were collected in the spring of 2014, with a total of 506 being used in the initial study groups. These queens were divided into three treatment groups and exposed to either a high level, low level, or no […]

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Neoniocotinoid Pesticides Impair Bees’ Ability to Fly

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2017) Last week, researchers at the University of California San Diego revealed the first ever link between the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and the ability of bees to fly. Published in Scientific Reports, the study, “A common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, impairs honey bee flight ability,” builds on previous findings that neonicotinoid use interferes with bees’ ability to navigate, and concludes that exposure to thiamethoxam affects honey bee flight patterns as well as their physical ability to fly in ways that may be detrimental to their survival. The study is the latest in a growing body of science linking pesticide use to honey bee declines, raising concerns about overall honey bee health and longevity in the face of continued neonicotinoid use. According to the study, both acute and chronic exposure to thiamethoxam revealed significant alterations of the ability of bees to fly -affecting flight distances, duration of flights, and flight velocity. Researchers noted significant differences in bee behavior based on short versus long term exposure, which they summarized as having an “excitatory short-term effect and a depressive longer-term effect” on the bees’ ability to fly. This means that when bees were exposed to thiamethoxam for a short, […]

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Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Mexican Long-tongued Bat

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2017) The Mexican long tongued bat is the pollinator of the month for May.  The Mexican long tongued bat, scientific name Choeronycteris mexicana, is a species of bat aptly named for its tongue, which has the remarkable ability to extend to nearly a body length. It is less-commonly referred to as the hog-nosed bat. Range The Mexican long-tongued bat’s range extends from the southwest of the United States through Mexico and into Central America, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the United States, the bat is restricted to the far-south of California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. It is found in most areas of Mexico but is absent from the Yucatan peninsula and the gulf coast. Further south, the bat is also found in southern Guatemala and El Salvador in addition to northern Nicaragua. The Mexican long-tongued bat participates in seasonal migrations rather than hibernation. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department admits that the study of the bat’s migratory patterns has been inadequate. However, it is known that the females establish maternity roosts in the southwest of the United States in late spring. They and their young depart for Mexico […]

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Chemical Companies Knowingly Allowed Carcinogenic Contaminant in Common Pesticide

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Multinational chemical companies Dow Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company knowingly sold and marketed fumigants contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that had a strong propensity to leach into and remain in groundwater, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a lawsuit against the companies. The contaminant of concern, 1,2,3-trichloropropene (TCP), was a manufacturing by-product found in Dow’s Telone and Shell’s D-D fumigant pesticide products with the active ingredient 1,3-Dichloropropene. The products, used to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, are toxic in their own right, but contained TCP in their formulation from the 1940s until the mid-1980s. EWG’s report details widespread contamination of drinking water in California’s agricultural regions, with detections found in 562 wells, and 94 public water systems identifying TCP above legal limits. Thirty-seven additional public water systems serving nearly 4 million U.S. residents throughout the country were also found to contain TCP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never set maximum contaminant levels for TCP in drinking water, but requires public reporting above the infinitesimally small amount of 30 parts per trillion, roughly six times higher than what the state of California requires. However, even proposed limits of 5 parts per trillion […]

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Study Finds Substantial Risks to Honey Bees During and After Crop Pollination

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2017) Past use of agricultural pesticides puts honey bees at risk across multiple growing seasons, according to research from scientists at Cornell University in New York. According to lead author Scott McArt, PhD, “Our data suggest pesticides are migrating through space and time.” Honey bees, which over the past decade have experienced unsustainable declines over 40% each year, are at great risk from exposure to a range of pesticides, chiefly the neonicotinoid class of insecticides. This new research adds to calls from beekeepers, environmental groups, and progressive farmers to transition agriculture away from pesticide-dependent practices. Cornell researchers conducted a massive study that analyzed both the pollen source and pesticide residue found therein for 120 experimental hives placed near 30 apple orchards in New York State. The landscapes surrounding each orchard were classified based on the amount of natural area or agricultural land that was present. Scientists analyzed risk to honey bees by collecting information about pesticide use during the growing season as well as the amount of pesticide contamination in “beebread,” pollen tightly packed unto pellets by bees used as food or in the production of royal jelly. “Beekeepers are very concerned about pesticides, but there’s […]

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Report Documents Threats to Aquatic Life, Calls for Phase-Out of Neonicotinoid Use

Friday, April 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2017) – As pollinators nationwide suffer severe declines tied to widespread exposure to pesticides, particularly a family of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, a new report details the chemicals’ dramatic impacts on aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity. This report coincides with findings of neonicotinoids in drinking water. The new report, Poisoned Waterways, documents the persistence of neonicotinoids in U.S. waterbodies and the danger they cause to aquatic organisms, resulting in complex cascading impacts on aquatic food web. The report supports previous calls for the restriction of neonicotinoid pesticides, given their high toxicity to bees, and now aquatic life. In an early 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment on one of the most widely used neonicotinoids, the agency reported levels in streams, rivers, lakes and drainage canals that routinely exceed acute and chronic toxicity endpoints derived for freshwater invertebrates. Poisoned Waterways reviews the current scientific literature on the effects of neonicotinoids in waterways and the life they support. Not only are these insecticides, which include, imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam, regularly detected in waterbodies in the U.S., they are found at levels that harm sensitive aquatic organisms. Aquatic insects and crustaceans are highly vulnerable, with the mayfly identified […]

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Maryland Passes Ban of Bee Toxic Pesticides on State Managed Pollinator Habitat

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2017) Earlier this week, the Maryland General Assembly took action to protect pollinators found in designated state pollinator habitat by passing SB 386/HB 830, Pollinator Habitat Plans- Plan Contents- Requirements and Prohibition, with bipartisan support. With this bill, the legislature will require pollinator habitat plans developed by any state agency to be as protective of pollinators as the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s managed pollinator protection plan requires. This translates to prohibiting, with some exceptions, the use of neonicotinoid pesticides or neonicotinoid-treated seeds or plants on state land designated as pollinator habitat. The bill’s passage represents the third major legislative victory to protect bees and other pollinators coming out of Maryland in the past year. Last spring, in a historic move, the Maryland legislature voted to become the first state in the nation to ban consumers from using products containing neonicotinoid pesticides, a class of bee-toxic chemicals that has been linked to the startling decline in bees and other pollinators around the world. The Maryland Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 198/House Bill 211), which also received bipartisan support, stipulates that consumers will not be allowed to buy pesticide products containing neonicotinoids starting in 2018. However, the legislation’s reach does not extend […]

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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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Polli-NATION Pollinator of the Month: Tumbling Flower Beetle

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2017) The tumbling flower beetle is the pollinator of the month for April. The tumbling flower beetle is the common name for Mordellidae, a family of beetles comprising over 1,500 species, 200 of which are found in North America according to the Field Guide to Beetles of California. Their common name is derived from the movement pattern they exhibit when disturbed. The beetles use their large rear legs to kick, jump, and tumble in an erratic pattern to the confusion of predators and the amusement of human observers. Range The differentiation in this large family lends itself to near ubiquity. According to the Encyclopedia of Life, the tumbling flower beetle can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Texas A&M notes the individual species are not overly adapted to specific environments and a number of species frequently overlap within a single ecosystem. Diet and Pollination Beetles are frequently overlooked in the world of pollinators. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the tumbling flower beetle’s ancestors were some of the earliest insects to utilize flowers for food and habitat. In doing so, these ancient pollinators began an important collaboration between flowers and beetles which continues […]

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Environmental Groups Call on Amazon to Remove Pollinator-Toxic Products from Website

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2017) Over 30 environmental and public health groups, joined by several environmentally responsible businesses, sent a letter today to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, urging him to remove products linked to pollinator declines from the retailer’s website. Citing federal inertia that has allowed pollinator declines to continue at alarming rates, the groups pointed to the need for action from private companies to combat known threats to pollinators, in this case a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoid pesticides are found in many home and garden products, and have been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be highly toxic to bees. According to the letter, “independent scientific literature associates the use of bee-toxic pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, with impaired pollinator health and decline, including reduced populations of native bees, butterflies and other beneficial organisms.” The groups call on Amazon “to use its influence as the largest online retailer in the U.S. to lead marketplace change and protect pollinators by prohibiting the sale of pollinator-toxic neonicotinoid pesticide products, educating consumers on the availability of safer, “pollinator friendly” alternatives.” This ask comes on the heels of last week’s decision by the federal government to officially list the rusty patch […]

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European Commission Urges Full Ban of Neonicotinoids

Monday, March 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2017) The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides across Europe under draft regulations. The EC cites neonicotinoids’ “high acute risks to bees.” In 2013, three neonicotinoids were temporarily banned because of concerns about their high toxicity to bees. A vote by member states can happen as early as May 2017. According to Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, the European Commission has presented to Member States its draft regulations to ban the neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Three draft regulations to ban the three bee-toxic neonicotinoids across the entire EU were submitted to the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed. These will be open to comments from Member States and a first vote on the Commission’s proposal could take place in May 2017. The new proposals are for a complete ban on the three neonicotinoid uses in fields, with the only exception being for plants grown in greenhouses.  There would need to be a positive vote from 55% of the Member States representing 65% of EU citizens (qualified majority) to implement the proposal. In 2013, the European Commission voted to suspend the use of […]

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Just Over a Month until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference in Minneapolis!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2017) We’re just over a month away from Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Click here to register now! Register Today: Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Forum Overview: The national forum highlights nationally renowned scientists, including professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University, Don Huber, Ph.D., whose agricultural research has focused on the  epidemiology and control of soil borne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, and physiology of host-parasite relationships; Vera Krischik, Ph.D., a tenured faculty in the Entomology Department at the University of Minnesota whose lab does research on insect exposure to various insecticides, […]

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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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Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Fig Wasp

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2017) The Fig wasp is the pollinator of the month for March. A highly evolved pollinator crucial to the life cycle of the fig tree, the fig wasp is part of the chalcidoid family. Within this classification, it is a member of the agaonidae sub family, which consists of both mutualistic pollinating, and parasitic, non-pollinating, fig wasps. Fig wasps have a mutually beneficially relationship with fig trees, as both the tree and the wasp rely on each other for reproduction. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are about 900 species of pollinating fig wasps that are responsible for pollinating 900 different fig tree species. The relationship between fig trees and fig wasps is so evolved that each type of fig wasp pollinates only one specific type of fig tree, creating a beautiful and interdependent evolutionary partnership. Range The range of the fig wasp is dependent on the range of fig trees, which, according to the Encyclopedia of Life, are mainly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of the southern hemisphere. The most widely known fig tree, the common fig tree, or Ficus carica, is native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, and range anywhere from […]

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Common Fungicide Damages Muscles that Bees Use to Fly

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017) Myclobutanil, a systemic fungicide commonly used in agriculture and home gardens, can cause significant damage to the muscles that honey bees use to fly and keep warm during the winter. The results of a study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, underscore the importance of wide-scale education and movement away from the regular use of toxic pesticides. After nearly a decade of unsustainable losses, honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer declines resulting from the use of toxic pesticides, particularly systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids. Although a substantial body of science implicates neonicotinoids as the most serious chemical threat to pollinators currently, the effects of fungicides and other pesticides on these important animals should not be dismissed as inconsequential. In fact, a 2016 study published by researchers at the University of Maryland found that bee colonies may die off as the number of different pesticide exposures increase. In this recent study, researchers discovered complex interactions between myclobutanil, natural compounds found in flowers, and honey bees’ detoxification system, known as cytochrome 450 enzymes. When foraging on flowers sprayed with […]

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Two Months until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference!

Friday, February 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2017) We’re only two months away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Register Today Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Background The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles, values, policies and practices that protect health and the environment. The Forum brings together speakers on the latest science on pesticides, from bee-toxic neonicotinoids to glyphosate, contrasted with practitioners utilizing organic management practices in agriculture and parks, and on athletic fields and rangeland. In sum, the Forum seeks to help hone public understanding of the […]

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Trump Administration Sued on Reversal of Endangered Species Designation for Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2017) On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Trump administration for reversing a February 10 rule, published in the Federal Register, that designated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The reversal  of the endangered species listing establishes a new review period until March 21. As to their reasoning for such a sudden change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) cited the White House memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. As discussed several days ago, the order by the Trump administration means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argues that FWS violated the notice and comment requirements of public rulemaking for the delay on the bumblebee listing. In the lawsuit, NRDC states that, “Without valid explanation, opportunity for public input, or other legally required process, FWS […]

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Trump Administration Reverses Endangered Species Designation for Bumblebee Pending Review

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2017) Less than one month after the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s listing as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Trump Administration has reversed the order. On his first day in office, President Trump issued a memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. This order means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” Advocates for the imperiled species are urging the administration to allow the Rusty Patched Bumblebee to officially become the first bumblebee federally recognized under ESA. Although the Rusty Patched was once widespread throughout the United States and parts of Canada, it declined dramatically in the 1990’s, and now their populations are estimated to be less than 10% of what they once were.  On its website, FWS lists a number of threats to the Rusty Patched, including pesticides, habitat loss, disease, climate change, and intensive farming practices. Insecticides known as neonicotinoids, […]

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Herbicide Use Contributes to Declines in Monarch Populations

Monday, February 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2017)  A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others  attributes the reduced number of overwintering monarch butterflies –a reduction of 27% from last year—to herbicide use and other factors. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, has been leading the effort in tracking monarch butterflies.  Their recently released 2016-2017 study concluded that the population of monarch butterflies decreased 27 percent from last year’s population, which had marked an increase from dangerously low levels over the previous three years.  Overall, this marks an 80 percent decline in monarch population from the 1990’s.  Researchers have estimated that within 20 years the monarch butterfly migration could collapse altogether. The study was conducted in December of 2016 when the colonies of monarchs are expected to be at their peak population in Mexico.  Monarch populations are gauged by the area of land they inhabit, rather than counts of butterflies.   Thirteen butterfly colonies were observed, recorded and tracked using geographic information systems software.  The researchers found that the butterflies occupied 2.91 hectares of forest, which re presents a 27.43 percent decrease in population compared to the 4.01 hectares of forest they inhabited during the […]

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