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UK Rivers Contaminated with Neonicotinoids; EU Delays Decision to Extend Ban

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2017) Tests of waterways in the United Kingdom (UK) reveal rivers contaminated with neonicotinoids, the class of chemicals highly toxic to bees and aquatic invertebrates. And now, although neonicotinoids were banned from use on certain crops in the European Union (EU) in 2013, an EU vote to extend the ban has been delayed. The test results raise concerns over neonicotinoids’ impacts on waterways, especially to fish and birds. Under a new EU mandate -Water Framework Directive ‘Watch List’ initiative – the UK was required to monitor for all five commonly used neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid and thiacloprid. Twenty-three sites were sampled in 2016, 16 in England, four in Scotland, three in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. This is the first systematic testing of neonicotinoids in rivers in Britain. According to the results, half the rivers tested in England had either chronic or acute levels of contamination. Of the 23 rivers tested across Britain, all but six contain neonicotinoids. Eight rivers in England exceed recommended chronic pollution limits, and two are acutely polluted. Neonicotinoids are not only highly toxic to bees but also highly toxic to aquatic insects, which are a vital food source to […]

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Health Costs from Chemical Exposures May Exceed 10% of the Global GDP

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2017) A recent study finds that environmental exposures contribute to increasing disease burden and corresponding health costs that may exceed 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Neurological impairments particularly add significant costs to both individuals and societies. This European study combined cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting substances, and suggests that a shift in priority setting for environmental policy is needed. The study’s authors, from Harvard University, the University of Southern Denmark, and the EHESP School of Public Health in France, say that calculations currently used as international references are “serious underestimations” of the economic costs associated with preventable environmental risk factors. Published in Environmental Health, the study, Calculation of the disease burden associated with environmental chemical exposures: application of toxicological information in health economic estimation, combined and extended cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including neurotoxicants, pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, where sufficient data were available to determine dose-dependent adverse effects. The study utilized risk valuations to assess the environmental burden of disease, and used country-specific monetary values of metrics for length and quality of life (Disability-Adjusted Life year or DALY – a […]

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Monsanto Offers Farmers Payments to Use Controversial Herbicide Dicamba, According to Reuters

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2017) According to a Reuters story, agrichemical company Monsanto plans to offer farmers a cash incentive to use its highly toxic and drift-prone dicamba-based herbicide next season, despite links to widespread crop damage that has pitted neighbor against neighbor in agricultural communities throughout the country. The move comes as more and more states enact or consider restrictions on use of the herbicide, which is intended to be paired with genetically engineered (GE) soybean seeds resistant to both dicamba and another controversial herbicide produced by Monsanto, glyphosate. Monsanto plans to provide farmers more than half of the cost of herbicide per acre as an incentive to plant its GE seeds. However, given the range of new regulations surrounding the products, as well as the social stigma around its use, it remains to be seen whether the offer will sway farmers. Dicamba has stirred up fights between neighbors in a number of agricultural communities. Bader Farms, which grows over 110,00 peach trees on over 1,000 acres in Missouri, is suing Monsanto after its insurance company issued a refusal to pay for damages caused by dicamba drift from surrounding farms. In June of this year, University of Arkansas’ agricultural […]

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Least-Toxic Chemicals Show Promise for Bed Bug Control, But Non-Toxic Practices Remain the Best Solution

Friday, December 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2017) Less toxic oil-based insecticides are showing promise for the treatment of bed bugs, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Economic Entomology. The common bed bug has seen a significant resurgence in the U.S., and with the pests found to be resistant to a broad range of modern, toxic insecticides, pest control operators are searching out new, safer ways to manage infestations. “So far there are no reports of resistance to these oils,” said study author Changlu Wang, PhD to Entomology Today. “It is very difficult for insects to develop resistance to them since they are not neurotoxins.” A range of 18 essential oils, concentrated liquids containing aromatic compounds derived from plants, were tested for their toxicity to bed bugs that were retrieved from an infested building in Indiana. Paraffin oil, a colorless and odorless mineral oil, as well as three silicone oils, similarly colorless and odorless oils used in various personal care products and medications, were also screened for their toxicity to bed bugs. Scientists observed the bed bugs in a laboratory setting for two weeks before moving to another round of experimentation. Of the 22 oils tested, paraffin oil […]

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Environmental Groups Plan to Sue EU Regulators over Glyphosate Decision

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2017) European health and environmental groups Global 2000 and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) have announced plans to sue European Union authorities over their assessment of the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup products produced by the chemical company Monsanto. The groups claim that the German regulatory authority, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used material directly from Monsanto in their report over the safety of glyphosate without making clear that the data came from Monsanto itself.  “Both the BfR and the EFSA were in breach of the requirement obliging them to make an independent, objective and transparent assessment,” the groups said in a statement provided to Reuters. PAN and Global 2000 filed legal complaints with investigators in both Berlin and Vienna, and plan to follow up with suits in France and Italy. The groups cite Austrian criminal code in their complaint, which indicates that “incorrect or falsified data” could be cause for commercial fraud. The two groups are also alleging that EFSA and BfR willfully endangered the public and the environment. Although the next steps are unclear, groups indicate to Reuters that they plan to work these […]

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PolliNATION: Best BioControl, Ichneumonid Wasps

Friday, December 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2017) Ichneumonid wasps (family Ichneumonidae), are a widely distributed parasitoid wasp family within the order Hymenoptera. The name “ichneumonid” comes from Greek words meaning “tracker” and “footprint.” And females do indeed hunt for suitable “hosts” by first identifying the organism’s food source. Once a suitable host is found, females deposit eggs onto the unsuspecting insect larvae where, within ten days to several weeks, the Ichneumonid larva kills the host by feeding on its body fluids before it emerges. They are also known as “scorpion wasps” for the extreme length and curving motion of their segmented abdomens. Note: both adult males and females are stingless, and feed on nectar. The discovery of Ichneumonidae was so troubling to many that, in 1860, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, saying: “I own that I [should wish to] see as plainly as others do…evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us…I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” The parasitic behavior of Ichneumon wasps was […]

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French Court Bans Two Bee-Toxic Pesticides

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2017)  A French court suspended the license of two pesticide products citing their toxicity to bees. The products, Closer and Transform, both contain the active ingredient, sulfoxaflor, which is highly toxic to bees. The ruling overturned the decision by France’s health and environment agency, ANSES, to allow the use of the sulfoxaflor products. Sulfoxaflor use was also challenged in the U.S. by beekeepers concerned about its impact on already declining bee populations. Sulfoxaflor is a relatively new active ingredient whose mode of action is similar to that of neonicotinoid pesticides. Even though it has not been classified as a neonicotinoid, it elicits similar neurological responses in honey bees, with many believing that sulfoxaflor is a new generation of neonicotinoid. Its initial 2013  U.S. registration was challenged by beekeepers and subsequently vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to overwhelming risks to bees and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inadequate review of the data. 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. By vacating EPA’s unconditional registration of the chemical, sulfoxaflor could not be used […]

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Glyphosate’s Cancer Finding Defended by International Body Attacked by Congressmen and Monsanto, as Permit Is Extended in EU

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2017) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, responded to the latest industry-fueled attacks on its reputation in the wake of its 2015 determination that glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world, is a probable carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity found in laboratory studies. Despite strong evidence against continued use of the chemical, the European Union voted this week to extend its allowance in member countries another 5 years. However, the extension is not the 15 years that Monsanto and other chemical companies sought, and France remains committed to banning the product in its home country and throughout the EU as soon as possible. On November 1, Chairmen Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and Environment Subcommittee, respectively, sent a letter to IARC questioning the integrity of its determination that glyphosate has carcinogenic properties. This is the latest in a long string of assaults on the agency encouraged by chemical companies, like Monsanto, which have an economic interest in keeping its toxic products on the market and away from restrictions or regulations that would limit […]

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Study Finds Pesticides Take the Buzz Out of Bumblebees

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2017) Bumblebees exposed to field-realistic levels of neonicotinoid insecticides have problems with “buzz pollination” that results in reduced pollen collection, according to new research published in Scientific Reports. This is the latest science to tease out the complex ways in which neonicotinoids interfere with these important pollinators, providing yet another reason to eliminate these highly toxic, systemic insecticides from the environment. Flowers that bumblebees pollinate require the insects to emit soundwaves, or ‘sonicate’ to release their pollen, and bumblebees must perfect their techniques over time in order to maximize the pollen they are able to collect. Researchers tested the effect of neonicotinoids on bumblebees’ sonication abilities by exposing them to field realistic doses of the insecticide thiamethoxam at rates of 2 parts per billion (ppb) and 10 ppb, and observing their ability to successfully collect pollen. A control group that never came in contact with thiamethoxam was also used to compare the progress of the exposed group. Lead author of the study, Penelope Whitehorn, PhD, indicated, “We found that control bees, who were not exposed to the pesticide, improved their pollen collection as they gained experience, which we interpreted as an ability to learn to buzz […]

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Take Action: Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

Monday, November 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2017) Congress is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported. Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act! The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy. According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as: •    Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. •    Climate Change –The top five factory-farm mega-corporations […]

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At Thanksgiving Dinner, Giving Thanks to Those Who Provide

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22-23, 2017) As we sit with friends and family this Thanksgiving, let us appreciate how our delicious meal got to your table. The turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cider all originated in fields far from our homes, and those working in those fields deserve our thanks. They deserve our thanks because many of these workers work long hours, under deplorable conditions, and are exposed to pesticides that put their health and that of their families at risk. So, as we enjoy our pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and apple crumble, remember all the hardworking farmworkers who have helped to bring our meal to the Thanksgiving table. At the same time, we give thanks for the environment that is so plentiful and nurturing of life, and remember the importance of pollinators and biodiversity in sustaining life. Celebrating Thanksgiving and looking toward another year coming to an end, provides an opportunity for us to remember to remain vigilant, and raise our voices against efforts to erode our environmental protections that safeguard human health and preserve biodiverse ecosystems. Thanking Farmworkers Farm work is hard and dangerous work. Each year millions of farmworkers, including seasonal and migrant workers, toil in fields across the […]

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Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Court-Ordered Review of Neurotoxic Pesticides

Friday, November 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2017) The Trump Administration is asking a federal court to delay a prior agreement that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue findings on the risk of three highly toxic organophosphate pesticides to endangered species. The move is widely seen by environmental advocates as influenced by the chemical industry, in particular the new agrichemical conglomerate DowDuPont, which completed a megamerger in September. The Trump Administration’s ongoing willingness to do the bidding of the chemical and pesticide industry means that voters must speak out to their elected representatives to stem the tide of chemical poisonings in the U.S. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires the agency’s pesticide registration process to include consultations with federal wildlife agencies, including NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In this case, the pesticides in question are chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, three highly toxic chemicals used as nerve agents during WW2 and registered as pesticides since the 1960s. EPA’s failure to consult with these agencies is a chronic problem in the pesticide registration and review process, leaving critical gaps in the […]

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Research Shows Common Insecticides Harm Songbird Migration, Raises Concerns of a New Silent Spring

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2017) Songbirds exposed to widely used insecticides fail to properly orient themselves for migration, according to a study published by Canadian scientists in Scientific Reports. With the organophosphate chlorpyrifos and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid applied to millions of acres of farmland throughout North America, this new research adds weight to arguments that pesticides are a likely cause in the decline of migratory bird populations. “Studies on the risks of neonicotinoids have often focused on bees that have been experiencing population declines. However, it is not just bees that are being affected by these insecticides,” said Christy Morrissey, PhD, biology professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers captured 57 white crowned sparrows in northern Canada, and held them in an outdoor pen for roughly two weeks, during which time all the birds either gained or maintained their weight. The songbirds were then split into three groups, one exposed to imidacloprid, another to chlorpyrifos, and the last untreated and acting as a control. The imidacloprid and chlorpyrifos exposed groups were each further separated by exposing a portion to the insecticide at 10% of the lethal dose that would kill 50% of a given population (LD50), and another to 25% […]

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EU Fails to Approve Continuing Glyphosate Use

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2017) The European Commission has again been unable to come to a consensus over renewing approval for Monsanto’s popular herbicide,  glyphosate.  Member states voted last week, but failed to approve, continued use even after months of deliberation over the controversial herbicide. Glyphosate (Roundup) is also up for review in the U.S., but many expect the herbicide to be reregistered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite health concerns. The proposal to renew the European Union (EU) license for glyphosate for another five years failed to a reach a qualified majority, meaning a decision has again been postponed, according to reports. The current license is due to expire on December 15, 2017, but there is an 18-month grace period. Fourteen countries voted in favor of the renewal, nine against, while five, including Germany, abstained from voting. According to reports, a qualified majority requires that 55 percent of EU countries vote in favor and that the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population. France, which voted against the proposal, said it would only support a renewal for three-year phase-out. The proposal could now be referred to an appeals committee, or alternatively, the Commission could draw […]

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Arkansas State Plant Board Votes to Continue Ban on Monsanto’s Dicamba Herbicide into Next Summer

Friday, November 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2017) On the heels of Beyond Pesticides’ campaign to ban the herbicide dicamba –with thousands of people urging the state to act in the of massive crop damage, the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) voted earlier this week to prohibit the use of the weedkiller in agriculture during the next growing season. If officially approved by a subcommittee of the state legislature, the new regulations will make dicamba applications between April 16 and October 31, 2018, illegal for Arkansas farmers. The move by the State Plant Board is a huge blow to multinational agrichemical companies Monsanto and BASF, both of which have developed genetically engineered (GE) soybean crops tolerant of dicamba herbicides. Dicamba has been linked to damage of the kidney and liver, neurotoxicity, and developmental impacts. The chemical has a strong propensity to volatilize small particles of the herbicide into the air and drift far off-site. Sensitive crop species can be damaged by dicamba at levels in the parts per million. According to ASPB, during the public comment period over 29,000 individuals provided input, with the overwhelming majority in strong support of the state’s plan to restrict the herbicide. Perhaps in anticipation of the action, […]

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Monsanto Pulls New Seed Treatment Product after Complaints of Skin Irritation, Blames Users

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November, 8, 2017) Farmers who purchased and handled Monsanto’s new treated seed product, NemaStrike, for nematode or roundworm control (nematicide) have been reporting skin irritation, including rashes that occurred after use. Now the seed giant is pausing a full rollout of the product, while blaming farmers for not using gloves and other protective equipment to handle the treated seeds. This is another blunder from Monsanto and the latest incident highlighting the deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide registration process in light of the millions of acres of crop damage from Monsanto products green-lighted by EPA. While touting that NemaStrike went through three years of extensive field trials and “extensive evaluations” by EPA, Monsanto stated in a bulletin to its customers on its website that it will pause commercialization of the product in light of reports of skin irritation from users. These adverse reactions to the product are being blamed on the failure of users to wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling the treated seeds. This is not the first time that Monsanto has tried to shift responsibility for the toxic effect of its products to users. Last year, Monsanto blamed farmers for drift […]

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Industry Influence Undermines Protection from Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2017) Scientists warn that inadequate federal testing, disproportionate industry influence, and subverted regulatory oversight threaten decades of progress on protecting people from hormone disrupting chemicals. This from a new paper with findings that regulators face a critical need to fully understand and address the hazards from these dangerous substances. Hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as endocrine disruptors, are substances that have been shown to interfere with the hormone system, leading to long-term health impacts ranging from cancer to neurological developmental impairments. Even small alterations in hormone concentrations, particularly during “critical windows” of embryonic development and developmental phases of life, can have lasting and significant effects. Mounting science is showing that disruptions to the hormone system can occur at very low doses that are lower than those used in traditional toxicity testing. Now, commentary from scientists at Rutgers University and North Carolina State University, “Endocrine disrupting chemicals and behavior: Re-evaluating the science at a critical turning point,” states that inefficient federal testing and outsized industry influence in Washington threaten decades of progress. “The significant progress made over the past couple of decades to understand endocrine disrupting chemical-related effects and mitigate exposures is now at serious risk,” write the authors […]

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Deadline Today: Stop Monsanto from Poisoning Farms and Communities

Monday, October 30th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2017) Tell the Arkansas State Plant Board to stand up to Monsanto, and protect farmers by banning dicamba’s use in Arkansas agriculture. Comment period closes today, Monday, October 30, 2017, at 4:30pm (Eastern Time). Your comments are needed to stop the disaster in Arkansas being created by Monsanto’s new genetically engineered (GE) cropping system, which relies on the toxic pesticide dicamba. If Arkansas bans dicamba, other states should and will follow —given the chemical industry’s takeover of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is allowing this extremely hazardous pesticide use. This is a problem that has regional and national implications, given the breakdown of the EPA and its pesticide program. We cannot let this failure of protection stand in Arkansas or anywhere in the country. Promoted by Monsanto as a way to address rampant Roundup (glyphosate) resistance, Monsanto’s new GE soybeans are now able to withstand both glyphosate and dicamba, an older herbicide with a range of documented health effects —from neurotoxicity to reproductive problems. Dicamba is also highly volatile and, as a result, has drifted across crop fields throughout the region, damaging high value fruit tree and organic operations. The Arkansas State Plant Board is […]

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Pesticide Residues Difficult to Wash Off Food

Friday, October 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2017) In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists at University of Massachusetts, Amherst identify a novel approach to reduce toxic pesticide residues on conventional food. The method the authors describe is cumbersome and unlikely to be widely used by consumers. At the same time, study results confirm that eating organic products is the best way for individuals and families to eliminate pesticide residues from their diet. For the current study, researchers looked at how much of two common pesticides, one, the fungicide thiobendazole, and the other, the insecticide phosmet, remained on apples after submersion for 24 hours. Both pesticides penetrated the skin of the apples, though thiobendazole, a systemic fungicide, made its way deeper into and past the apple’s skin. Thiabendazole penetrated 80 micrometers into the apple while phosmet penetrated 20 micrometers. Researchers looked at three different methods to reduce the pesticides on apples: tap water, a bleach solution, and baking soda. Compared to the others, baking soda was found to be by far the most effective method to reduce pesticide residue, with 80% of thiabendazole and 95% of phosmet removed. “If factory washing [with bleach] is already effective, then […]

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EPA Curtails Public’s Ability to Make the Agency Obey the Law

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2017) In mid-October, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced another action in his effort to remake the agency by issuing a directive that aims to stop the practice — often referred to as “sue and settle” — of settling lawsuits with outside (often, environmental) groups. It’s the Administrator’s contention that such groups have had undue influence on regulation. He has indicated that his action will not prevent EPA from reaching settlements with “outside litigants,” but that he does want to disallow agreements that would change a discretionary duty to a nondiscretionary duty. However, responding to Administrator Pruitt’s comment about the days of “regulation through litigation” being over, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) notes, “That’s really just a twisted way of saying that the days of holding the EPA accountable are over. The effect won’t just be the EPA wasting taxpayer money as it fights unwinnable lawsuits, but also prolonging delays that allow polluters to keep on polluting.” The agency’s press release quotes Mr. Pruitt: “‘The days of regulation through litigation are over. . . . We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special […]

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Agricultural Intensification over Last Three Decades Reduces Insect Population by 75%

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2017) Over 75% of insect abundance has declined over the last 27 years, according to new research published by European scientists in PLOS One. The dramatic drop in insect biomass has led to equally dramatic pronunciations from highly respected scientists and entomologists. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon,” study coauthor David Goulson, Ph.D. of Sussex University, UK, told The Guardian. “If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.” Looking at the range of mechanisms that could be driving this slow moving catastrophe, researchers could suss out only one plausible large-scale factor: agricultural intensification. The current study, which looked at 63 nature preserves located in Germany, follows a similar study released in 2013 that was conducted in a singular German nature preserve. That study, originally published only in German, but available translated by Boulder County Beekeepers, found that 75% of insect biomass declined in the Orbroich Bruch Nature Reserve in Krefeld, Germany from 1989 to 2013. That study was limited to a singular nature preserve, and while scientists who worked on the study described their results as […]

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New EPA Restrictions of Herbicide Dicamba, Prone to Drift, Criticized as Not Stopping Major Crop Damage

Friday, October 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that label changes to the herbicide dicamba would be made to try to minimize drift that has left thousands of acres of crops already damaged this season. The label changes include making dicamba “restricted use,” which allows only certified applicators to apply the chemical. Dicamba drift has been damaging farmers’ crops for at least two years due to the approval of new dicamba-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Advocates says that the new changes do not ensure that drift will be eliminated. According to EPA, the agency reached an agreement with the makers of dicamba, (Monsanto, BASF and DuPont) to restrict its application. This comes after hundreds of official complaints of crop damage related to dicamba across 17 states this year alone, leading to questions about the new formulation of the chemical used in genetically engineered (GE) crop productioon. New GE crops developed by Monsanto must be paired with specific formulations of dicamba, and thus led to a vast increase in dicamba use over the past couple growing seasons. Dicamba-based herbicide use has climbed dramatically as farmers have adopted, especially, Monsanto’s GE soybean seeds; in the 2017 season, 20 […]

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Atrazine Exposure Leads to More Male, Fewer Female Frogs

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

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

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