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Ecological Mystery Unravels, With Toxic Pesticide Use at the Center

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2021) Earlier this year, a team of scientists solved an ecological mystery that had persisted for decades. Throughout the southeastern United States, bald eagles and other top-level avian predators were experiencing mass deaths from a disease known as vacuolar myelinopathy (VM), a neurological ailment that causes lesions in affected animal’s brains. Scientists identified the source of the exposure as a cyanobacteria growing on an invasive weed, but up until now, did not know how the bacterium caused disease. Now, scientists have determined that the chemical bromine, likely introduced by brominated herbicides in attempts to manage the invasive species, is the trigger for the production of the cyanobacteria’s neurotoxin. In the mid-1990s, over 70 bald eagles died in Arkansas’s DeGray Lake over the course of two years. The event was the largest mass mortality of eagles recorded. Scientists identified the disease as vacuolar myelinopathy, and through the course of several years were able to determine that the disease generally affected birds in the built environment, near artificial bodies of water with high levels of aquatic plant life. Waterfowl and other bird species were found to develop lesions in lakes where there was an ongoing VM outbreak. Evidence […]

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American Bird Conservancy Petitions EPA to Ban Import of Food Containing Deadly Pesticide Residues

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2009) American Bird Conservancy has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the import of crops containing any residues of 13 pesticides that are banned or restricted for use in the United States. These pesticides are highly toxic to birds, but are commonly used on crops throughout Latin America where many species of U.S. migratory birds spend the winter months. In addition to the environmental risks to birds, several of these chemicals also pose a risk to agricultural workers. “Allowing residues of these hazardous pesticides on imported food gives tacit U.S. approval to foreign countries to use chemicals that are known to be deadly to U.S. migratory birds,” said Dr. Michael Fry, American Bird Conservancy’s Director of Conservation Advocacy. “EPA has an obligation under Executive Order 13186, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Endangered Species Act to ensure that migratory birds are not harmed.” Many Latin American countries that currently use these pesticides export coffee, bananas, citrus crops, and other fruits and vegetables to the United States. Agricultural areas — in particular shade coffee farms — provide valuable habitat for migratory birds, and so pesticide use in these areas can pose a significant […]

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Report Finds Toxic Pesticide Combustion in Grass Seed Production

Monday, March 30th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, march 30, 2009) The burning of grass seed fields on more than 38,000 acres in Oregon has been a threat to public health for decades.

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