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Local Restaurants Launch Campaign to Protect Pollinators during National Pollinator Week

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2016) To celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, 2016, several Washington, DC restaurants have teamed up with Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety to launch a campaign, “Made by Pollinators,” to protect pollinators suffering steep declines. With one out of every three bites of food reliant on bees, the participating restaurants’ patrons will be treated to a special menu featuring pollinator-friendly food and provided with information on what they can do to help pollinators. The restaurants hope to increase public awareness on the importance of pollinators and steps that can be taken to reverse the decline. Participating  restaurants include Busboys and Poets, Founding Farmers, Lavagna, the Tabard Inn and Restaurant Nora. Of the 100 crop varieties that provide 90% of the world’s food, 71 are pollinated by bees. Honey bees alone pollinate 95 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables, such as apples, avocados, almonds, and cranberries. The value of pollination services to U.S. agriculture alone amounts to nearly $30 billion and about 80% of flowering plants require animal pollination. A recent government survey reports that U.S. beekeepers lost 44 percent of their colonies between spring 2015 and 2016 —the second highest loss to date. […]

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Public Comment Needed on EPA’s Plans To Allow Bee-Toxic Sulfoxaflor despite Elevated Bee Losses

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2016) Despite recent reports of continuing bee losses across the U.S., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to reevaluate the use of the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor, and is proposing an amended registration. Sulfoxaflor’s initial 2013 registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and EPA’s inadequate review of the data. Last September, the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally rejected  EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor. The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide may  have on honey bee colonies. The Court vacated EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, meaning that sulfoxaflor could no longer be used in the U.S. This decision was in response to a suit filed by beekeepers challenging EPA’s initial registration of sulfoxaflor, which cited the insecticide’s threat to bees and beekeeping. The case:  Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, American Beekeeping Federation, Thomas Smith, Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson v. U.S. EPA  (9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,”¯No. 13-7234) According to the court decision, EPA skirted its own regulations […]

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

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

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

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Maryland Pollinator Protection Act Becomes Law

Friday, May 27th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) — Thanks to the hard work and efforts of beekeepers, environmental groups, scientists, legislators and activists, Maryland is the first state to pass legislation through its General Assembly that restricts consumers from using neonicotinoids, a pollinator-toxic pesticide. Earlier this month, the state of Connecticut also passed far-reaching legislation aimed at protecting pollinator populations from these toxic chemicals. The Maryland Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 198/House Bill 211) will become law without the Governor’s signature. Supporters had feared a veto from the executive office, but as a result of overwhelming pressure from beekeepers and activists, Governor Larry Hogan (R) allowed the bill to come into law. Under the Act, consumers will not be permitted to buy pesticides that contain neonicotinoids starting in 2018. Certified pesticide applicators, farmers and veterinarians will be still be allowed to use neonicotinoids. Connecticut’s bill also restricts consumer use of neonicotinoids. In addition, it requires the creation of pollinator habitat on state lands, and begins to address the use of these chemicals in agriculture by developing best practices on neonicotinoid coated seeds, and model pollinator habitat in farm preservation programs. As Maryland’s bill made its way through the legislature, an amendment was […]

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Maryland Residents Asked to Urge Governor to Sign Pollinator Protection Act, Under Threat of Veto this Week

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2015) Maryland’s historic Pollinator Protection Act, (SB 198 and HB 211) may be in danger. Last month, lawmakers approved the bill by a 98-39 vote in the Maryland House of Delegates, however it faces the possibility of a veto by Governor Larry Hogan (R). While the governor’s office says that the bill is currently under review, according to local news source WBAL, the governor is prepared to veto the bill, which he has until tomorrow, Friday, May 27, to do. If the governor does veto the bill, Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act will go back to the legislature for an override vote, which will take place in early 2017. Meanwhile, beekeepers continue to lose their bees at unprecedented rates. Last week, we reported results of 2015-16 Colony Loss Survey, which show no sign that the crisis of abating. According to the survey, beekeepers lost 28.1% of their colonies over this past winter, and a total of 44% of their colonies over the last year. This marks the second year in a row that summer declines (28.1%) were on par with declines experienced during winter. WBAL reports that the governor is likely to veto the bill because of […]

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A Decade into the Pollinator Crisis, Unsustainable Bee Losses Continue

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2016) It was 10 years ago that commercial beekeepers first reported widespread, unsustainable winter losses of their honey bee colonies. A decade after the alarm was first sounded on pollinator declines, results of 2015-16 Colony Loss Survey show no sign the crisis of abating. According to the Bee Informed Partnership survey, beekeepers lost 28.1% of their colonies over this past winter, and a total of 44% of their colonies over the last year. This marks the second year in a row that summer declines (28.1%) were on par with declines experienced during winter. Beekeepers factor in that a small percentage, <15% of their colonies, will be lost each winter, but do not expect to lose colonies during the summer, when there is amble forage and nectar for bees. The costs beekeepers must incur to keep their hives alive continue to increase. More time and money is spent to maintain their hives, yet losses continue to be staggering ”” and unsustainable. As colony collapse disorder (CCD), the cryptic loss of honey bee colonies with no sign of dead bees in or around the hive, has faded from public discussion, concerns over pollinator declines in general, from bees […]

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Macalester College Signs Resolution to ‘Bee Protective”

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2016) Another campus, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota has pledged to become a designated BEE Protective campus. This recognition comes from Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which aims to protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids. As part of its  commitment, Macalester College will  no longer use neonicotinoids on its  campus grounds. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have severe impacts on bee populations. Macalester is now one of several campuses around the country that have pledged to protect pollinators and move away from using harmful pesticides that are toxic to these beneficial creatures. Just last month,  Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio pledged to become a BEE Protective campus. In addition to these campuses, several local communities and states are also taking a stand for pollinators by passing policies that restrict the use of bee-toxic pesticides. For more on how your campus or student group can support pollinators and become BEE Protective, visit the BEE Protective Ambassadors webpage. “Macalester’s new resolution to help protect pollinators fits well with our Sustainability Plan and Sustainable Landscaping Master Plan. I’m glad that our college has this opportunity […]

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Now Available: Videos to Promote Healthy Communities

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2016) Beyond Pesticides is pleased to announce that videos are now available from Cultivating Community and Environmental Health: Models for sustainable and organic strategies to protect ecosystems, pollinators and waterways, the 34th National Pesticide Forum! The videos cover the range of topics that were discussed at the Forum and include keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. This year’s forum focused on the adoption of policies to protect human health and the environment, and organic land and building management strategies. Beyond Pesticides encourages activists, community leaders, scientists, and policy makers to attend its annual National Pesticide Forum in person to get together, share information, and strategize create communities that are healthy and free of toxic pesticides. For those who are unable to attend in person, these videos expand the incredible knowledge of the experts to the broader public to help inspire and inform community action. Watch the videos here. You can access the playlist, which includes all of the available videos of the 2016 forum, as well as previous years, on Beyond Pesticides’ YouTube page. Notable presentations include: Pollinators, Biodiversity and Scientific Integrity, by Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D. Dr. Lundgren is an agroecologist, director of ECDYSIS Foundation, and […]

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Connecticut Legislature Votes Unanimously to Adopt Pollinator Protections

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2016) In a bipartisan victory for bees, last week the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously (147-0) passed a wide-ranging bill aimed at protecting declining pollinator populations within the state from toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Bill No. 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health, was also passed unanimously (36-0) through the Connecticut State Senate on April 21, and now goes to Governor Dannel P Malloy for his signature. Earlier in April, both houses of the Maryland legislature passed the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act, which is currently awaiting action by Governor Larry Hogan (R). Connecticut’s bill addresses a broad range of concerns relating to pollinator health, from pesticides to parasites and habitat remediation, within both residential and agricultural settings. In summary, the bill does the following: Prohibits applying neonicotinoid insecticide (a) to linden or basswood trees or (b) labeled for treating plants, to any plants when such plant bears   blossoms; Bee health experts identified the application of systemic neonicotinoids to Tilia trees as a significant concern for pollinator health after a spate of massive bee-kill incidents on the west coast. In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed after a neonic was applied to a linden trees in […]

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Study Finds Neonicotinoids Cause Compound-Specific Harm to Bumblebees

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2016) A study published online last week has examined the effects of three neonicotinoids (neonics) on bumblebee colonies, from live bee kills to changed sex ratios. Neonics have been widely cited as contributing to  the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations. They can cause  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems. The study, published in Scientific Reports, looked at field-relevant levels (2.5 parts per billion) of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, and found compound-specific effects at all levels, including within individual bee cells, individual bees, and whole colonies in semi-field conditions. Given the limitations of laboratory studies and field studies, researchers conducted a semi-field study to try to recreate and represent real world exposure patterns. The neonics were provided to the bees as an optional supply of sugar syrup, but were free to forage and did need to gather pollen in order to grow and raise offspring. Researchers found that imidacloprid and clothianidin displayed abilities to affect neuronal Kenyon cells, which help with learning, memory and multisensory integration. At the whole colony level, thiamethoxam altered the sex ratio, leaving more males than females. Both imidacloprid and […]

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Antioch College and UMD Pledge to Protect Pollinators

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2016) This week, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio,  became the third university to become a neonicotinoid-free campus.  Antioch College gains recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s  BEE Protective  Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the  BEE Protective  resolution, Antioch signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. In addition to joining the Bee Protective Campaign, the Village of Yellow Springs, where Antioch is located,  is  considering an organic land care policy, and Beyond Pesticides is working with the Village to assist with a transition to organic turf care. “At Antioch College, we have an opportunity, and an urgency, to be change leaders in turning around pollinator decline, exposing misleading research and recognizing the importance of inter-species cooperation. To paraphrase our president Thomas Manley, ”˜If we are not leaders in discovering and implementing  new and better ways of living  , then what is the point?’” said Beth Bridgeman, the faculty member who drove the effort to ban neonicotinoids from campus. Antioch students and staff maintain about […]

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City of Milwaukie, OR Passes Resolution to Protect Pollinators

Monday, April 25th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2016) Last week, the City Council of Milwaukie, Oregon passed a resolution that halts the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides on city government and public property,  joining the growing number of local governments protecting pollinators.  Neonicotinoids  (neonics) have been widely cited in the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations.  The resolution specifically  restricts city government agencies from purchasing plants and seeds that have been treated with neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides and urges public and private landscapers and homeowners to plant bee-friendly habitats.  Clackamas County will join with the Mayor’s office and City Council of Milwaukie to adopt an Integrated Pest Management Plan that mirrors the resolution. In addition to these stipulations, the City of Milwaukie is using this resolution to: urge all businesses, homeowners, and homeowner’s associations operating within the City ensure no plants, seeds, or products containing neonicotinoids are purchased, sold, or used within the City; and to clearly and accurately label any plants or materials that have been treated with a neonicotinoid or neonicotinoid-like insecticide; require that commercial pest service providers performing services on behalf of the City provide landscape services that encourage pollinator populations and support pollinator services; […]

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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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Scotts Miracle-Gro To Eliminate Neonics in Ortho Brand

Monday, April 18th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2016) Major pesticide manufacturer Scotts Miracle Gro announced on Tuesday that it will immediately being phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran from its outdoor-use Ortho brand by 2017. Neonicotinoids (neonics) have  consistently been implicated  as a major contributing factor in pollinator declines. They can cause  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems. In its press release, the Ortho brand announced that it was partnering with Pollinator Stewardship Council to help educate homeowners on the “safe and appropriate use of pesticides.” “While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.” Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand said. “As the category leader, it is our responsibility to provide consumers with effective solutions that they know are safe for their family and the environment when used as directed. We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead.” Neonics have emerged as the leading class of pesticides responsible for bee decline. While neonicotinoid insecticides have been responsible for high profile bee kills from high doses […]

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Maryland Legislature Bans Retail Sales of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Monday, April 11th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2016) 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 bill now heads to Governor Larry Hogan to sign or veto. The Pollinator Protection Act was approved by lawmakers on Thursday by  a 98-39 vote in the Maryland House of Delegates. While consumers will not be allowed to buy pesticide products containing neonicotinoids starting in 2018, the legislation’s  reach does not extend to farmers, veterinarians, and certified pesticide applicators, who will still be permitted to apply  the chemicals. Consumers can also buy treated plants and seedlings from stores without any labeling. Cumulatively, these present major sources of exposure for bees and other pollinators. The bill originally included a requirement that companies put labels on plants and seeds that are treated with neonicotinoids, but that provision was ultimately pulled from the bill. Hardware stores  like Home Depot and Lowe’s  had previously announced that they were voluntarily phasing out the supply of neonicotinoid-treated plants over the next two to three […]

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Villanova Pivots to Neonic-Free, Joins Bee Protective Campaign

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides April 6, 2016) Hot off the heels of the NCAA basketball tournament, a national title is not the only thing Villanova University has to celebrate this week. The campus, located near Philadelphia, PA, recently became the second school in the nation to receive recognition from the Beyond Pesticides’ and Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, which seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides. Signing the BEE Protective pledge, Villanova signaled its continued commitment to using neonicotinoid-free insecticides on campus, making them one of the leading higher education institutions committed to the protection of pollinator species. “For Villanova, sustainability is not just about energy and recycling,” said Liesel Schwarz, Villanova’s Sustainability Manager. “We look to make all aspects of campus life sustainable, including how we treat our campus grounds. This recognition only further solidifies the wonderful work our grounds department has done to not only make the campus beautiful and inviting for people, but also for pollinators.” Villanova maintains more than fifty pollinator-friendly plants on campus, including aster, black-eyed Susans, milkweed and mint. Along with planting pollinator-friendly habitat, the elimination of neonicotinoid pesticides on campus is an exemplary move by Villanova to protect pollinators. […]

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Small Size of Wild Bees Correlated with Their Proximity to Intensive Agriculture

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2016) Populations of wild, ground-nesting bees grow smaller in areas where agricultural production is high, according to Cornell University researchers. Both wild and managed pollinators are experiencing global population declines that have been linked to a range of factors stemming from human activity, to habitat loss, the spread of parasitic mites and diseases, climate change, and significantly, the use of toxic, systemic pesticides. This study underscores the wide ranging threat that conventional agricultural practices pose to wild insect pollinators. Cornell researchers explore the relationship between intensive agricultural production and the size of ground-nesting Andrena nasonii bees. These charismatic pollinators dig tunnels in the ground up to three  feet deep in which they store honey and nectar, and ultimately lay a single egg. They forage on a variety of fruit crops, and are well known and important pollinators of strawberries. Thus, scientists brought their study to areas in New York with large strawberry plantations. Researchers discovered a significant, positive correlation between the decreased size of female A. nasonii bees and their proximity to intensively farmed strawberry plots. “Once we knew there was an effect of agriculture on the size of the bees, we took a random sample […]

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Pesticides Kill Dragonflies and Reduce Biodiversity in Rice Paddies

Monday, April 4th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2016) Pesticides widely used in rice paddies in Japan are harming  dragonflies. The study, conducted by researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies, finds that the insecticide fipronil significantly reduces the population of adult dragonflies, more so than any other pesticide treatment. The study, titled Fipronil application on rice paddy fields reduces densities of common skimmer and scarlet skimmer  and published in the journal Scientific Reports, investigated the impact of neonicotinoids, which have been linked to bee die-offs around the world, and chlorantraniliprole, which, like neonicotinoids and fipronil, is a systemic pesticide that is taken up by the plant and subsequently expressed in pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets. Plankton species were adversely  affected by clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, and chlorantraniliprole, but they recovered after concentrations of the chemicals decreased. Koichi Goka, Ph.D., a senior researcher at the institute, said nymphs living near the soil are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals, according to The Asahi Shimbun. “The density of insecticidal components in the water drops quickly after they are dissolved,” Goka said. “But such components long remain in the soil. Nymphs at the bottom of water could have been affected.” Dr. Goka is calling for more testing […]

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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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Minnesota Beekeepers Compensated for Bee Kills from Pesticide Drift

Monday, March 28th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2016) In the first test of a landmark beekeeper compensation law that works to protect beekeepers from the effects of toxic pesticides on their hives, Minnesota has recently compensated two beekeepers for pesticide drift that killed their bees. Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) have confirmed what beekeepers and environmentalists have been saying: Even when pesticides are used in accordance with the label and the law, they can be acutely toxic to bees in everyday circumstances. Pam Arnold, an organic farmer who manages hives on her property, and Kristy Allen, another beekeeper who shares the same bee yard, were the first two beekeepers to actually receive compensation through the beekeeper compensation law. Last spring, a farmer across their road planted neonicotinoid (neonic) coated corn seeds on a windy day, resulting in the death of their bees as toxic dust from planting drifted on to their property. Tests performed by MDA during the investigation found acute levels of clothianidin in the dead bees, even days after the incident. Nearby dandelion weeds also showed significantly higher concentrations of the toxin. According to the MDA website, the case closing letter was sent in November 2015, but they […]

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Vermont House Votes to Authorize State Regulation of “Treated Articles,” such as Neonic-Coated Seeds

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides March 23, 2016) Last week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes state  regulation of pesticide-treated products,  including  telephone poles and coated seeds, that are exempt from federal pesticide regulations. H.861 is the latest in a string of laws introduced this legislative session in Vermont to address the impact of harmful neonicotinoid insecticides  on Vermont’s ecology and agriculture, and symbolizes a concentrated effort by the legislature to reverse pollinator declines within the state. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill will  allow the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate above and beyond current federal laws, which exempt treated articles from regulation completely, and write appropriate rules in response to recommendations from a state Pollinator Protection Committee. The bill, which passed with wide support in the House, gives the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets the authority to regulate “treated articles,” a term coined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to denote products treated with pesticides, such as utility poles, commercial crop seeds, and lumber. Traditionally, EPA gives rulemaking authority over pesticides to states, but that authority does not extend to products pre-treated with pesticides, which, until this point, has posed […]

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Boulder County, Colorado to Phase Out GE Crops on Public Land

Monday, March 21st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2016) Last Thursday, Boulder County (CO) commissioners directed staff to draft up a plan to phase out genetically engineered (GE) crops on all farmland owned  by the county. The county’s current policy, adopted in 2011, allows tenant farmers to grow certain types of GE corn and sugar beets on land leased through Boulder County, and will remain in effect at least until the end of the year. The five-year policy old has frequently come under fire from individuals and environmental groups that challenge the safety of GE crop production systems, and their effect on human health, water quality, soil health, and the overall environment. The Boulder County commissioners heard  recommendations from the county’s advisory committees, including the county’s Croplands Policy Advisory Group, the Food and Agriculture Policy Group, and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Group. A public hearing was held on Feb. 29  also provided public input on whether to continue or change the current approval in Section 6.1 of the Boulder County Parks & Open Space Cropland Policy that allows for the use of certain genetically engineered (GE) crops on Open Space land. That approval expires on December 20, 2016. More than 100 people […]

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Study Finds Bees’ Pollination Skills Impaired by Pesticides

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2016) Another study, this time from researchers at the University of Guelph, finds that at very low levels the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam affects  the foraging behavior of bumble bees, changing their floral preferences, hindering their ability to learn and extract nectar and pollen. This study is one of many that detail the negative effects of pesticides on bees’ learning behavior and ability to pollinate essential crops. Pesticides, like the neonicotinoid class of insecticides, have been implicated in the global decline of pollinator populations, while advocates call for  limiting pesticide exposures to reverse population declines. According to the authors of this Canadian study, “Chronic exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide alters the interaction between bumblebees and wild plants, “published in  the journal Functional Ecology, it is the first to explore how pesticides may impact the ability of bumble bees to  forage from common wildflowers that have complex shapes such as white clover and bird’s foot trefoil. The researchers found that bumble bees exposed to environmental levels of thiamethoxam (10ppb) took longer to collect pollen than unexposed bees, as well as foraged from different flowers. Importantly, this study reports that bumble bees that were not exposed to thiamethoxam are […]

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