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Crusade for Local Democracy; The Saga of State Preemption Continues Into 2024

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2024) Earlier this month, a coalition of over 140 local and state elected officials from over 30 states sent a letter to ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees to reject the proposed Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288), which would preempt local governments’ authority to protect their constituents from toxic pesticides. Members of Congress are negotiating language in the Farm Bill that would preempt local and state authority to restrict pesticides. “We write to express our strong opposition to any efforts to limit longstanding state and local authority to protect people, animals, and the environment by regulating pesticides,” says the signatories. “As Congress considers legislation related to agriculture, including the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills, we urge you to ensure that state, county, and local governments retain the right to protect their communities and set policies that best suit our local needs.” The question of local rights to adopt more stringent restrictions on pesticide use has historically been left to the states. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. Mortier, 1991) affirmed the rights of local communities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), […]

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Take Action: EPA Challenged for Not Assessing Claimed Pesticide “Benefits,” Opens Public Comment Period

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long been criticized for its failure to evaluate the effectiveness (or efficacy) of all the pesticides it registers. A petition, for which there is now an open public comment period (submit comments by January 22, 2024), challenges what advocates call a basic failure of the agency to evaluate the claimed benefits of pesticides. Because of this long-standing situation, those who purchase pesticides do not know that the pesticides they buy will meet expectations for control. For farmers, that means that EPA has not evaluated whether the pesticide’s use actually increases productivity of the treated crops and/or whether over time the target pest (weed, insect, fungus) will become resistant. For consumers, it also means that there is not an independent analysis of whether the pesticide products work. As EPA implements the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), not only is there no agency assessment of whether the pesticide’s use will achieve its intended purpose, there is not a determination as to whether there is a less toxic way of achieving the pest management goal. As Beyond Pesticides cited last year, a piece published in the Proceedings of the […]

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Groups Petition EPA to Remove from the Market the Weed Killer Glyphosate

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2023) Last week, farmworker organizations and Beyond Pesticides, represented by the Center for Food Safety, filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that the weed killer glyphosate be removed from the market. The petition cites 200 studies, which represent a fraction of the independent scientific literature on the hazards of glyphosate and formulation ingredients of glyphosate products. This action follows previous litigation in 2022 in which a federal court of appeals struck down EPA’s human health assessment, finding that the agency wrongfully dismissed glyphosate’s cancer risk. The farmworker groups petitioning include Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and the Rural Coalition.   Meanwhile, verdicts against glyphosate’s manufacturer, Bayer, continue to pile up with a December jury verdict in Pennsylvania awarding $3.5 million and a November jury in Missouri ordering $1.56 billion to be paid to four plaintiffs. All link their cancer to use of the Roundup. Bayer has lost almost all of the cases filed against it for compensation and punitive damages associated with plaintiffs’ charge that its product (previously manufactured by Monsanto) caused them harm.  The petition summarizes its purpose and justification as […]

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Viruses Shown to Be Effective Biological Control

Thursday, November 30th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2023) Scientists at Minami Kyushu University in Japan have made a groundbreaking discovery of a new biological control for a target insect. They have identified a virus in tobacco cutworms that kills males, creating all-female generations. The discovery was described in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences and The New York Times as evidence that multiple viruses have evolved to kill male insects. This “male-killing” virus could be added to the growing attempts to control unwanted insects with biological, as distinguished from genetically engineered (GE) solutions. Efforts range from the introduction of natural predators, to radiation-based sterilization of insects, CRISPR-based genetic mutations, and other techniques. While the GE approach has run into controversy because of unanswered questions associated with their release into natural ecosystems, some approaches have also run into resistance problems. Nearly a decade ago, researchers found armyworm resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-incorporated genetically engineered (GE) maize in the southeastern region of the U.S., calling this evolution of insect resistance to a naturally occurring soil bacterium engineered into crops “a serious threat to the sustainability of this technology.” The general population knows to avoid eating raw eggs because the bacteria salmonella, […]

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Take Action Today: Tell EPA To End Pesticide Dependency, Endangered Species Plan Is Inadequate

Friday, October 20th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2023) Comments are due October 22. This action requires use of Regulations.gov. See instructions and proposed comment language that can be copy and pasted by clicking HERE. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to “protect” endangered species, its Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework, continues a legacy of failed risk assessment and mitigation measures that do not meet the moment of looming biodiversity collapse. This is a critical time for the agency to embrace real fundamental change in how it regulates pesticides, recognizing that land management strategies, including in agriculture, exist that are no longer reliant on pesticides. This is not a time to tinker with strategies that EPA admits fall short. Recognizing that its Pesticide Program has failed to meet its obligation to protect endangered species from registered pesticides, EPA has come up with a strategy to redefine its responsibilities to protect endangered species in its pesticide registration and registration review program. According to EPA, “The proposed Strategy is structured to provide flexibility to growers to choose mitigations that work best for their situation. Additionally, the draft Strategy may require more or less mitigation for growers/pesticide applicators depending on their location.” Understandably, EPA has taken this approach, […]

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EPA Rejects Petition Seeking Review of Complete Ingredients in Pesticide Products

Monday, October 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2023) After six years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally responded to a citizen petition requesting that the agency evaluate complete formulations of pesticide products, not just the ingredients the manufacturer claims attack the target pest (so-called “active” ingredients). EPA’s response: No. Nowhere in EPA’s denial of the need for a more robust toxicological analysis is the problem more evident than in its refusal to require analyses of the so-called “inert ingredients” or “adjuvants” included in various formulations of pesticide products. The citizen petition [see more background] was followed by a lawsuit for the same purpose in 2022. Inerts and formulants are substances that enhance the distribution or adhesion of the active ingredient; adjuvants enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredient. These terms suggest that those chemicals have no effect on anything in the area where the pesticide is applied—a wildly inaccurate implication. At least as early as 1987, EPA had recognized that some inerts and adjuvants were “of toxicological concern,” yet it still requires very few toxicological tests of whole-formula pesticides or their purportedly inactive components. EPA responded to the petition as follows: “[T]he Agency appropriately assesses, as part of its review, the impacts to […]

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Confronting Dramatic Biodiversity Loss on 50th Anniversary of Endangered Species Act

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2023) On the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), statements out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raise concerns about the agency’s ability to meet the challenge of evaluating pesticides for their adverse impact on threatened and endangered species. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA officials stated, “Even if EPA completed this work for all of the pesticides that are currently subject to court decisions and/or ongoing litigation, that work would take until the 2040s, and even then, would represent only 5 percent of EPA’s ESA obligations.”   As part of a “whole of government” approach, EPA must redirect its pesticide program to protecting all species and their habitats.   The speed and depth of biodiversity loss has reached crisis proportions. A 1,500-page report in 2019 by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES )—Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers, the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization, makes the following finding: “Since 1970, trends in agricultural production, fish harvest, […]

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Take Action: The Protection of Birds Linked to Mosquito Management

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2023) Mosquito season is upon us, and to many that means spraying pesticides to kill them. But not only is spraying flying mosquitoes the most ineffective way to prevent mosquito problems, it is also counterproductive because it eliminates some of our most attractive and helpful allies—birds. Tell EPA to eliminate pesticides that threaten birds or their insect food supply. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior to protect birds by eliminating the use of pesticides that threaten them. Tell Congress that EPA and other agencies need to do their job and protect birds and other mosquito predators. While the appetite of purple martins for mosquitoes is well known, most songbirds eat insects at some stage of their life. Many birds who eat seeds or nectar feed insects to their young, including flying insects that may be bothersome–like mosquitoes or flies. Altogether, birds consume as many as 20 quadrillion individual insects, totaling 400-500 million metric tons, per year. Mosquito-eating birds include many well-known residents of our communities. They include, for example, wood ducks, phoebes and other flycatchers, bluebirds, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, swallows, swifts, robins, orioles, wrens, great tits, warblers, nuthatches, hummingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, […]

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Take Action: Pesticide Restrictions Do Not Match EPA Rhetoric to Protect Endangered Species

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, May 30, 2023) On Endangered Species Day, May 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed an unfortunate degree of hypocrisy in its claims to protect endangered species from pesticides. Tell EPA and Congress that dwindling biodiversity is an existential crisis that requires removing serious threats posed by pesticides. EPA announced that it “is publishing a group of StoryMaps to raise public awareness about protecting endangered species from pesticides.” It continues, “Through its Vulnerable Species Pilot, EPA has been identifying endangered species that are vulnerable to pesticides, developing mitigations to protect them from pesticide exposure, and will apply the mitigations to many types of pesticides.” However, pesticide use is a major cause of declining biodiversity, which is manifested in extinctions, endangered species, and species vulnerable to environmental disturbances—including climate change, habitat fragmentation, and toxic chemicals. If EPA is serious about protecting biodiversity, it must look first at the ways it has created the crisis in the first place. Studies upon studies upon studies show that pesticides are a major contributor to the loss of insect biomass and diversity known as the “insect apocalypse,” particularly in combination with climate change. Insects are important as pollinators and as part of […]

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France’s Drinking Water Contaminated with Toxic Fungicide Chlorothalonil, Banned in EU but Widely Used in U.S.

Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2023) Health officials in France are alerting the public that a majority of drinking water samples tested by the government contain the presence of the highly toxic fungicide chlorothalonil. The findings highlight a stark divide between regulations and public health management in the European Union and United States. While EU member states have banned this chemical and are working to understand and address lingering effects, tens of millions of pounds of chlorothalonil continue to be sprayed throughout the U.S. annually. French officials say they conducted this research after researchers in Switzerland found evidence of the fungicide in drinking water. A few years ago, Swiss scientists released a report showing Evian bottled water, touted for its claims of purity, was found to contain measurable levels of chlorthalonil.  “The fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,” Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly at the time. The EU banned uses of chlorothalonil in 2019, due to concerns over water contamination, the effects of such contamination on fish […]

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Calling for Reform of Pesticide Regulation to Address Health, Biodiversity, and Climate Crises

Monday, January 9th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2023) The Biden EPA still needs a new vision in order to meet the existential crises in public health, climate change, and biodiversity. The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by the EPA in decades. Despite a broad new perspective embodied in President Biden’s Executive Memorandum (EM) Modernizing Regulatory Review issued on his first day in office, the Biden EPA has not adopted a new direction for regulating pesticides. Tell President Biden, EPA, and Congress to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden issued the EM, which directs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This EM could reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). The President’s EM sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to […]

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Neonicotinoid Insecticide Exposure Harms Amphibians Across Multiple Life Stages

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2022) Exposure to widely used neonicotinoid insecticides harms amphibians at multiple life stages, adversely affecting their ability to survive in the wild, according to research published in the Journal of Zoology. As long-lived, systemic insecticides, neonicotinoids are consistently found in U.S. waterways,  often above federal safety limits, making these findings particularly dangerous for frogs and other amphibians throughout the country. As troubling data piles up on this class of dangerous insecticides, which are damaging pollinators, birds, deer, aquatic wildlife, and human health, it is left to the public to place pressure on federal regulators and members of Congress to act. To understand the impact of neonicotinoids on amphibian life stages, researchers conducted a range of  experiments. These were designed to investigate how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid affected larval survival, sexual development, locomotor skills, and avoidance behavior of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica). Larval survival was examined by exposing tadpoles to 10 parts per billion (ppb) of imidacloprid, a rate lower than the lethal concentration expected to kill half of other frogs species in acute toxicity tests. Four treatment protocols were established, adding the variable of natural pond drying to half of the tested frogs to […]

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Seeing the Value of Nature through Beavers, as Cattle Ranchers Benefit from These “Ecosystem Engineers”

Friday, September 9th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2022) One kind of solution to the biodiversity crisis that is likely not on most folk’s bingo cards comes from a Nevada cattle rancher, who has shifted his relationship with . . . wait for it . . . beavers. As climate change impacts ramp up their toll in the U.S. via intensified droughts, floods, and wildfires, solutions are widely and eagerly sought, if deployed at insufficient pace. In this Nevada case, Agee Smith — unlike his rancher father, who reportedly “waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite” — welcomes beavers and their industry on his ranch land. Doing so has yielded multiple benefits for his operation, the environment, and biodiversity. As reported by The New York Times, “Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.” Many landowners, of all stripes, consider beavers to be destructive “nuisance” animals that wantonly fell trees, and in so doing sometimes flood farm fields, back yards, roads, forests, or grazing acreage. Public complaints about such behaviors resulted in the federal government’s killing of more than 25,000 beavers […]

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Researchers Determine Mechanism of DDT Link to Alzheimer’s, Informing Potential Treatments

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2022) New research is helping the medical community understand the mechanism through which exposure to the banned insecticide DDT increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of researchers from Florida International University and Rutgers used multiple models to demonstrate the effects of DDT on the production of toxic proteins in the brain. The constant stream of new health risks regarding a chemical banned decades ago underlines the importance of a precautionary approach to pesticide regulation, particularly as red flags are already being raised about the connection between widely used weed killers like glyphosate and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “The vast majority of research on the disease has been on genetics — and genetics are very important — but the genes that actually cause the disease are very rare,” says study coauthor Jason Richardson, PhD of Florida International University. “Environmental risk factors like exposure to DDT are modifiable. So, if we understand how DDT affects the brain, then perhaps we could target those mechanisms and help the people who have been highly exposed.” Previous research from Dr. Richardson found that DDT exposure increased risk of Alzheimer’s by four times. Scientists […]

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Court Order Leads to EPA Finding that Neonicotinoid Pesticides Are a Serious Threat

Friday, June 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2022) As reported by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), on June 16 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final Biological Evaluations, for three neonicotinoid insecticides, that indicate that these pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” the vast majority of endangered or threatened species and/or their designated critical habitats. These evaluations for imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam have been a long time coming, and represent, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the first time EPA “has completed biological evaluations of any neonicotinoids’ harms to the nation’s most imperiled plants and animals.” These evaluations evidence what CFS, CBD, Beyond Pesticides, and others have maintained for years: that neonicotinoid compounds are very serious threats to the survival and well-being of myriad organisms and habitats. A Biological Evaluation (BE) is an EPA analysis of potential harmful impacts of a registered pesticide on any species federally listed, per the Endangered Species Act, as endangered or threatened, or on their critical habitats. EPA was legally required to issue the determinations by the June 2022 deadline, per CFS litigation and a subsequent 2019 legal settlement. EPA was the defendant in 2017 litigation brought by CFS, with Beyond Pesticides, several beekeepers, and the Center for Environmental […]

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First Report of Environmental Pollutant Risk Among Tropical Mammals Across the Globe

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2022) A report published in Biological Conservation finds environmental pollutants, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and particulate matter, adversely affect tropical terrestrial wildlife. Specifically, these contaminants can interact with one another, altering the chemical landscape of the ecosystem, and causing changes in the endocrine and microbiome systems of mammals. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), global attention to the danger of pesticides has increased, with environmental agencies banning the use of legacy pesticides like organochlorines for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects. However, these chemicals can remain in the environment for decades and interact with various current-use pesticides, including organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and pyrethroids. Although many studies demonstrate that environmental pollution plays a significant role in premature deaths among humans, there is a lack of research on how environmental pollution directly affects tropical species mortality. Considering human and wildlife habitats tend to overlap, and chemical pollutants can drift from chemically treated areas, wildlife populations are more likely to experience similar health effects. With the number of chemicals in the ecosystem growing, studies like these highlight the need for pesticide policies that protect human health in addition to the integrity of the chemical landscapes accommodating wildlife. The researchers note, “Using […]

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Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[…]. That just means it should be […]

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Environmentalists Outraged at Probability that EPA Will Allow Continued Use of Deadly Pesticides, the Neonicotinoids

Friday, March 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2022) Recent coverage by The Guardian of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan — to extend the registration of several demonstrably harmful neonicotinoid insecticides — compels Beyond Pesticides to identify, once again, the agency’s failures to enact its core mission. That mission is “to protect human health and the environment,” and to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.” EPA has undertaken a review of the registration of several members of the neonicotinoid (neonic) family of pesticides and, despite the agency’s own findings of evidence of serious threats to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts. EPA appears to be prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022; this would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Neonics are used widely in the U.S., both on crops to kill sucking insects, and as seed treatments with the same goal for the developing plant. These insecticides are systemic compounds, meaning that once applied, they travel to all parts of a plant through the vascular […]

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Backyard Bird Counts Begin this Fall; Pledge Your Pollinator-Friendly Land

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2021) It is the time of the year for backyard bird counts to begin. Birdwatching is the most popular form of amateur science. It takes little to get started. Birds are fun to watch and photogenic. Birdwatching may be practiced alone or in groups. Birdwatching is also a way to participate in science, and you can do it from home. Cornell Lab of Ornithology collaborates with other organizations to gather data collected at feeders and elsewhere. Cornell Lab’s eBird is one of the world’s largest biodiversity-related science projects, with more than 100 million sightings reported annually. eBird and FeederWatch data document bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends. According to Cornell Lab, “eBird data are stored across secure facilities, archived daily, and are freely accessible to anyone. eBird data have been used in hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and help inform bird research worldwide.” Data submitted to eBird are also used to support conservation measures. If birds aren’t your favorites, all kinds of citizen science programs that ensure that conservation decisions are informed by the best available data, which is a fundamental challenge in the face of rapid global environmental […]

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Aquatic Wildlife Populations Take A Nosedive after Neonicotinoid Exposure

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2021) The diversity and abundance of freshwater aquatic insects plunges when commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leach into waterways, finds research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month. While this is the latest study exploring the effects of neonicotinoids in the field at real-world exposure levels, it is far from the first to show unacceptable hazards to wildlife and ecological health. As research on neonics piles up, advocates are watching in dismay as regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fail to respond to the science and allow indiscriminate poisoning to continue. To determine how neonicotinoids affect critical aquatic species near the bottom of the food chain, researchers created a series of 36 experimental ditches, split into four groups of nine. One group acted as a control and received no pesticide, and each other group received, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the thiacloprid, a neonic insecticide often cited by industry and regulators as having lower toxicity concerns than other neonicotinoids. Mimicking a pulse that may come from a nearby insecticide application, each group of ditches was dosed every two weeks for a period of three months. Scientists […]

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Organic Must Lead the Way in Environmental and Health Protection

Monday, September 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through September 30. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on October 13-14 and online meeting October 19-21—in which the NOSB deliberates on issues concerning how organic food is produced. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Fall. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong (KOS) and the Fall 2021 issues page. In the spirit of “continuous improvement,” we urge you to submit comments (please feel free to use our comments on the KOS page) that contribute to an increasingly improved organic production system. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requires that all synthetic materials used in organic production be approved by the NOSB, included on the National List, and reassessed every five years. Among those up for sunset review this Fall are some controversial materials—copper sulfate, carrageenan, and list 3 “inerts.” In addition, the NOSB is once more considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin in fruit production. Copper sulfate is used in organic rice production to control algae and an invertebrate known as tadpole shrimp. It […]

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Endangered Species Likely To Be Hard Hit by Neonicotinoid Insecticides, EPA Finds

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month released a long-overdue biological evaluation of the three most commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that the chemicals are likely to adversely affect the lion’s share of endangered species and their habitat. While the public may be most familiar with the damage neonics cause to pollinator populations, EPA’s evaluation highlights the widespread, indiscriminate harm scientists throughout the world have been sounding the alarm about for years. Advocates say the findings make it clear that neonicotinoids must be immediately banned from use. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), EPA is required to consult with federal wildlife agencies and conduct a biological evaluation of the impacts a pesticide may have on endangered species and their habitats, prior to the agency formally registering the pesticide. This almost never happens. EPA regularly fails to conduct this evaluation, requiring environmental and conservation organizations to sue the agency in order to force compliance with the law.   EPA has been subject to a number of legal challenges over the last decade for its failure to comply with ESA when it registered neonics pesticides. In 2019, Ellis v Housenger (EPA), a lawsuit filed by […]

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Debilitating Ear Blisters Plague Long Island Turtle Populations from Pesticide Use

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2021) A recent report by Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons finds Long Island, New York turtles are experiencing higher rates of deadly aural abscesses or ear blisters from pesticide use. Previous research documents the role chemical exposure from environmental toxicants play in inner ear abscess formation among turtles. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases aural abscess instances. Considering these infections are taking a toll on the Long Island turtle population, government and wildlife officials must assess how chemical exposure promotes disease development to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. Karen Testa, executive director of Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, cautions, “I’m urging Long Islanders to think about how these pesticides are negatively impacting the natural world. Is your perfect green lawn worth the life of a turtle?” Aural abscesses are painful ear blisters that can grow as big as a golf ball. Medical intervention is necessary to remove abscesses from turtles and treat them with an antibiotic regimen to prevent death. Turtle Rescue facility workers report a staggering 50 percent of turtles currently within their care to have aural abscesses. The percentage of turtles with this diagnosis is much higher than in past years. […]

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