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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

Friday, November 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It’s never too late to start a new tradition – for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person’s body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we’ll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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Tell EPA Misleading Biopesticide Classification Must Be Redefined

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2021) “Biopesticides”—widely regarded as an alternative to chemical pesticides and hence given a special status in regulation—need a better definition. “Biopesticide” is generally poorly understood, and defined differently by various entities and stakeholders. The term can be misleading and mixes contradictory approaches. It is troublesome when we continue to look for product replacements or substitutions for agricultural practices that are clearly ineffective, and in the process avoid the changes necessary to transition to organic practices, which represent the real, long-term solution to concerns among chemical-intensive farmers that they are losing pesticides in their arsenal, either to organism resistance or regulatory restrictions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the following definition for “biopesticides”: Substances that interfere with mating, such as insect sex pheromones, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps (and synthetic analogs of such biochemicals); Microbial pesticides consisting of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient; Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs), pesticidal substances that plants are genetically engineered to produce. Tell EPA it’s time to redefine “biopesticide.” It is deceptive and misleading. The definition should not include genetically modified organisms or synthetic analogs of naturally occurring […]

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General Release of Honey Bees Threatens Wild Native Bee Populations and Ecosystems

Friday, May 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2021) In a prime example of cart-before-the-horse, greenwashing, or perhaps “beewashing,” a British company has badly missed the mark in its latest attempt to market a product while “doing good” and generating goodwill with customers. As The Guardian reports, Marks & Spencer, the giant United Kingdom (UK) retailer, is releasing 30 million managed honey bees into rural British landscapes in what the company is promoting as an effort to support biodiversity and the beekeeping sector. However, according to experts and environmental advocates, unleashing that many honey bees may well actually harm both wild native bees and honey bees themselves. Critics of the move say this means that wild bees will likely face fiercer competition for already inadequate food sources. Beyond Pesticides adds that these honey bees have been dispatched to the same pesticide-contaminated habitats in which existing bee populations of all kinds face harmful exposures — exacerbating issues surrounding pollinator decline rather than solving them. Marks & Spencer’s Twitter marketing promotes the project in this way: “Did you know that bees contribute to a third of the food we eat? At M&S, we’re introducing more than 30 million bees to our Select Farms to help protect the […]

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Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

Friday, May 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2021) Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life — as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration — depend. A recent meta-review of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. In their paper, “Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types . . . [These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil ecosystems.” Beyond Pesticides, which has long reported on impacts of pesticides on soil health, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of  regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The term “pesticide” can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments — including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others — but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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“No Pollinator is Safe” — New Evidence of Neonicotinoids Harming Wild, Ground Nesting Bees

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2021) A new study is making it increasingly clear that current laws are not protecting wild, ground nesting bees from the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides. According to research conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) projects, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osima spp) are at particular risk from pesticide-contaminated soil they use to create their nest. Authors of the study note that with honey bees already in decline, pollination services provided wild managed bees like Mason bees are growing in importance. “Wild bees such as Osmia are becoming increasingly popular as managed pollinators in many systems, as there is growing concern that honeybees may not be able to continue to meet the increasing demands of agricultural pollination if these trends continue,” the study reads. The study looked at three overarching threats to mason bee populations, aiming to identify risks from pesticide contaminated soil used as a nest, effects on larvae exposed to contaminated soil, and whether female mason bees could determine the difference between contaminated and uncontaminated soil. “Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees,” said Christine Fortuin, PhD, […]

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Massachusetts Regulators Restrict Consumer Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2021) Earlier this week, pesticide regulators in the commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to restrict outdoor consumer uses of neonicotinoid insecticides. The move is the result of sustained advocacy from broad coalition of individuals and organizations focused on protecting pollinators and ecosystem health. While advocates are pleased that the Pesticide Board Subcommittee made Massachusetts the first state in the country to restrict neonicotinoids through a regulatory process, they note this is only the first step in eliminating these hazardous insecticides. “This marks an incremental victory which took us 6 years to land, and it only happened because of immense, ongoing grassroots action and legislative allies who are willing to hold state regulators accountable,” said Martin Dagoberto, Policy Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter in a press release. “We still have a monumental endeavor ahead if we are to reduce toxins and rein in the toxic influence of the chemical lobby,” Mr. Dagoberto added. Advocates had been pushing the legislature to pass An Act to protect Massachusetts Pollinators, sponsored by pollinator champion Representative Carolyn Dykema, since 2014. Following several failures by state lawmakers to bring the bill over the finish line, efforts in 2019 resulted […]

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Researchers Developing New Methods to Detect Pesticide Contamination in Bee Hives

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2020) With honey bees around the world under threat from toxic pesticide use, researchers are investigating a new way to track environmental contaminants in bee hives. This new product, APIStrip (Adsorb Pesticide In-hive Strip), can be placed into bee hives and act as a passive sampler for pesticide pollution. Honey bees are sentinel species for environmental pollutants, and this new technology could provide a helpful way not only for beekeepers to pinpoint problems with their colonies, but also track ambient levels of pesticide pollution in a community. According to a study published by an international team of researchers, APIStrip has the potential to detect 442 pesticides as well as their primary break down products at levels lover than parts per billion. The strip, comprised of polymer, is what scientists describe as “a bee-proof, in-hive passive sampler.” Current methods of sampling honey bee hives for contaminants is time-consuming, requiring removal of bees, pollen, honey or beeswax, and can result in significant hive disturbance. This new method was piloted by citizen-science beekeepers, and according to researchers proved to be a simple and effective tool that any interested citizen-scientist could employ. Passive sampling of environmental contaminants by citizen scientists […]

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Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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EPA Gives Go-Ahead for Mass Poisoning of Fox, Coyote, and other Wildlife Predators

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2019) Thousands of fox, coyote, and other carnivores will continue to be poisoned to death by hydrogen cyanide after the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-approved the use of M-44 “cyanide bombs” earlier this month. Cyanide bombs are essentially small, poison-filled land mines baited with food and placed on rural land with the intent of killing predators that prey on grazing livestock.  “EPA is blatantly ignoring its fundamental duty to protect the public, our pets and native wildlife from the cruel, lethal impacts of cyanide bombs lurking on our public lands,” said Kelly Nokes, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). “We will continue to hold our federal government accountable to the law, and will continue our fight for a ban on M-44s once and for all.” After denying a petition to ban the products last year, the agency delayed a decision to reregister M-44s in response to over 20,000 public comments, 99.9% of which opposed renewal, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity and WELC. Despite overwhelming public opposition, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is renewing the products with only minor changes to the labels that govern their use. The […]

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Take Action: Bring Back Scientific Integrity to Government Decisions

Monday, December 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2019) Although the influence of regulated corporations has historically silenced science that threatens profits – as shown by industry reaction to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – attacks on science in federal agencies have increased in the Trump administration. EPA has dismissed findings of scientists concerning chlorpyrifos, atrazine, and synthetic pyrethroids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has discontinued collecting data on honeybees. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to designate critical habitat for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. Tell your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, and thank those who already have cosponsored. H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, was introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, in an effort to restore scientific integrity to government agency decision-making. The bill begins with the premise that “science and the scientific process should inform and guide public policy decisions on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, and protection of national security.” It prohibits scientific misconduct, suppression of scientific findings, intimidation of researchers, and creation of barriers to communicating scientific or technical findings. It limits the actions an agency may take in the process of approving dissemination of scientific results and gives individual researchers […]

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Study Finds EU Moratorium of Persistent Bee-Toxic Pesticides Cannot Eliminate Short-Term Hazards

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2019) Five years after three neonicotinoids were banned for use on bee-attractive crops in the EU, researchers found that these bee-toxic chemicals are contaminating soils and poisoning the nectar of oilseed rape (canola). The results of this research point to an immediate need to end the use of persistent environmental contaminants and promote organic practices. Researchers set out to determine whether the EU moratorium eliminated the risk for bees that forage on oilseed rape nectar. They tested for imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin residues in the nectar of winter-sown oilseed rape in from 291 oilseed rape fields in western France for five years following the EU moratorium (2014-2018). Results show all three neonicotinoids were present at least once in the study’s time period. Imidacloprid was detected every year with “no clear declining trend,” though its prevalence fluctuated widely between years. Two samples from 2016 show residues that are five times the expected maximum concentration in nectar of a plant directly treated with imidacloprid. Residue levels in the nectar depend on soil type and increase with rainfall. The researchers put forth in their discussion that the imidacloprid contamination may likely be caused by runoff from neighboring, treated plants. […]

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EPA Inspector General Report Finds the Agency Falling Short in Oversight of State Pollinator Plans

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2019) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report criticizing EPA’s oversight of states’ Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). OIG conducted an audit, on which the report is based, to evaluate agency performance in overseeing MP3s, voluntary plans adopted at the state level with the goal to “reduce pesticide exposure to pollinators (generally, honey bees managed and contracted out to growers for pollination services) through timely communication and coordination among key stakeholders.” The report’s findings include the following: EPA has no means to evaluate the national impact of MP3s. The agency has not developed a strategy to use data from a planned fall 2019 survey (see more below on the AAPCO/SFIREG/EPA survey) to evaluate either the national impact of MP3s or the agency’s support of state MP3 implementation efforts. EPA focuses primarily on acute risks (those that occur during a single exposure to a specific pesticide), and gives insufficient attention to chronic exposures to pesticides and to native pollinator protection activities. The history of the MP3 program starts in 2014, when President Obama issued a memo establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force (PHTF), directing federal agencies […]

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Pesticide-Intensive Agriculture Contributes to Severe Monarch Butterfly Decline through Milkweed Contamination

Monday, July 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2019) Scientists studying the precipitous decline in populations of monarch butterflies are searching for causes, and pesticide use is one of the factors under their (figurative) microscopes. Purdue University entomology professor Ian Kaplan, PhD and doctoral student Paola Olaya-Arenas recently turned their attention to a poorly studied potential factor — exposure during monarchs’ larval stage to non-target pesticides on their primary host plant and food source, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). In Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers report finding evidence of 14 different agricultural pesticides on milkweed near Indiana farm fields, including neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, the pyrethroid deltamethrin, and imidacloprid in a few samples. The research team’s primary aim was to identify and measure the range of pesticides to which monarch caterpillars might be exposed, or which they might consume, on milkweed plants in agricultural landscapes. Secondarily, they hoped to learn how pesticide presence varies with distance between milkweed plants and nearby agricultural sites. In the subject Indiana environs, where corn and soybeans are dominant crops, the study found neonicotinoid residues on milkweed, particularly those of the active ingredients in clothianidin and thiamethoxam. They note, “Although seed treatment data are no longer reported for U.S. […]

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Flight Distance of Bumblebees Impaired by Pesticide, Leads to 87% Decline in Accessible Forage Area

Monday, May 6th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2019) Beleaguered pollinators deal with a multitude of human-engineered threats: habitat fragmentation and loss via development and agricultural intensification, ecosystems and food sources tainted with toxic synthetic pesticides, and shrinking food sources via habitat and biodiversity loss. Research out of the Imperial College of London shows that such challenges are exacerbated, for bumblebees, by another impact of pesticide exposure — impaired flight endurance and dynamics. Published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in late April, ”Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduced flight endurance in bumblebees” examines how acute exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid affects the nature of bumblebee foraging flight. The study’s researchers find that worker bumblebees so exposed exhibit significant diminishment of flight endurance — measured as both distance and duration — to approximately one-third of what control workers demonstrate. This new information, aggregated with the many other factors that threaten pollinators, points to the importance of ending the use of chemical controls, such as the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, and transitioning to organic systems of agricultural pest management that do not rely on toxic compounds that harm wildlife, ecosystems, water resources, and humans. Previous research has shown numerous impacts of pesticide exposure on bumblebees, and of neonicotinoid exposure, in […]

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Despite Safety Claims, Insecticide Flupyradifurone Is Bee-Toxic on Its Own and Worse in Combination

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2019)  A neurotoxic pesticide labeled “bee-safe” has been found to be harmful to bees, according to a new study. Flupyradifurone (FPF), the subject of the study, is a novel chemical that was hastily registered in the wake of public awareness about the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees. A systemic insecticide and a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonist, it functions in the same way as a neonicotinoid, though it is in the butanolide family. “Lethal and sublethal synergistic effects of a new systemic pesticide, flupyradifurone (Sivanto®), on honeybees,” not only debunks the myth that FPF is safe on its own, it also delves into the FPF’s synergistic effects with a commonly used fungicide propiconazole (PRO). PRO, on its own, has no impact on bee mortality. A rarely studied realm of pesticides, the study defines a synergistic effect as, “when combined exposure to two factors results in an effect that is significantly greater than the sum of individual effects.” Researchers manipulated six healthy honey bee (Apis mellifera ligutica) colonies and observed the impact of varying amounts of pesticide exposure, including both individual and synergistic effects, on behavior and mortality. They recorded data over seasons and between worker […]

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Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Friday, April 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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Regulations to Protect Bees Fall Short, Scientists Call for More Attention to Native Bees

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2019) It is news to approximately no one that pollinators are in trouble worldwide. A series of papers by biologists at the University of Guelph, Ontario, posits that pesticide regulations aimed at protection of honey bees fall far short of the critical task of protecting the multitude of bee species that are important pollinators of human food crops. These recent papers arose from 2017 workshops that involved 40 bee researchers from various universities, and representatives from Canadian, U.S., and European regulatory agencies, and from the agrochemical industry. Beset by shrinking habitat, pathogens, and toxic chemical exposures, bee pollinator populations are at great risk, even as “‘our dependency on insect-pollinated crops is increasing and will continue to do so as the global population rises,’ said [Professor Nigel] Raine, [PhD], [a] co-author of all three papers recently published in the journal Environmental Entomology. . . . Protecting wild pollinators is more important now than ever before. Honeybees alone simply cannot deliver the crop pollination services we need.” There are, in fact, more than 20,000 bee species worldwide, and 3,500–5,000 bee species in North America alone. Although regulators across many countries have focused narrowly on assessing the risk of pesticides to honey bees, many […]

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Bees’ Medicine Chest Should Include Sunflower Pollen, Study Finds

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2018) A study published last month in Scientific Reports finds that eating sunflower pollen significantly reduces protozoan infection in bumblebees. Studying ecosystem services and what she calls “floral rewards,” evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says sunflowers may provide a long sought after solution for improving bees’ immune system response to both disease and parasites. The researchers studied the protozoan Crithidia bombi, a common parasitic infection of bumble bees, known to impair learning and foraging, shorten lifespan and destabilize colony hierarchies by impacting queen bee behavior. From the outset of the study, Dr. Adler says, “the more sunflowers were grown at the farm, the lower the Crithidia load for the bees at that farm.” Knowing pollinators eat pollen as a source of protein and healthy fats, Dr. Adler hypothesized that both pollen and nectar might have medicinal effects against disease and parasites. However, her experiment did not show consistent results with nectar. After bees in the lab were starved for 4-6 hours, researchers fed individual worker bees from small colonies a drop of fructose fluid containing 6,000 Crithidia cells, being the approximate concentration bees may encounter in the wild while foraging. After […]

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EPA Considers 300,000-Acre Expansion of Bee-Toxic Pesticide

Friday, October 19th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2018) Pollinator advocates and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are imploring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Bayer CropScience’s application for use of “Sivanto,”a pesticide product with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, a chemical the company claims is safer for bees, but poses the same risks at the notorious bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides. If approved, Sivanto would be sprayed in tobacco-growing states along 300,000 acres in the southeast U.S., areas home to more than three dozen species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Bayer’s proposal for expanded uses comes after EPA’s own assessment indicated risks to endangered species, and despite the fact that the agency has not undergone an ESA mandated consultation with federal wildlife agencies. For the countless flying insects, birds, and bats already under significant threat from neonicotinoids, adding another systemic insecticide to the mix will only make the situation worse. Bayer AG is characterizing flupyradifurone as being harmless to honeybees. However, flupyradifurone, being a systemic pesticide, can negatively impact many non-target species.  In fact, flupyradifurone impacts honey bee brains in a similar way to neonicotinoids, as it impairs learning, memory and the honey bees’ affinity for nectar rewards. Advocates worry that growing […]

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Study Finds Bumblebees Increasingly Attracted to the Pesticides that Kill Them

Friday, August 31st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2018) Given the choice to forage on untreated or pesticide-contaminated food sources, bees will increasingly choose the pesticide, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in late August. The data indicate that risks to pollinators grow, rather than wane, over time, making improved regulation over bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides even more climacteric. In essence, the study indicates that bees may be undertaking the human equivalent of chain-smoking themselves to death. Authors of the study note that numerous studies have been performed that subject bees to neonicotinoid-treated food, however this research generally allows pollinators to only forage on contaminated sources. While this provides important information on hazard criteria, it does not indicate risk of exposure. Positing the idea that pollinators may eventually seek to avoid neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar, researchers provided bumblebee colonies with a choice over the course of 10 days. At the start, the bees exhibited no discernable preference between toxic and nontoxic food. However, as time went on more and more bees fed from nectar laced with thiamethoxam, a widely used neonicotinoid. By the end of the experiment, food containing 2 parts per billion of the pesticide was eaten 10% more than in […]

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Kroger Sets 2020 Phase-Out of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on Its Plants, Costco Encourages Suppliers to Change; Both Commit to Carry More Organic

Friday, June 29th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2018) It is widely known that pollinators are in trouble. In light of this, Kroger (which includes numerous other grocery chains, like Harris Teeter) announced in a press release last week — during National Pollinator Week —  a phase-out by 2020 of live garden plants treated with the insecticides most closely associated with the decline of bee populations, the neonicotinoids. In May, Costco updated its pollinator policy, which “encourages” its suppliers of garden plants, fruits, and vegetables to limit the use of bee-toxic pesticides and adopt ecological practices. The company in 2016 announced a policy to encourage suppliers to change their pesticides. In a statement that has broad implications for pollinator and environmental protection, Kroger included the following statement about organic food in its press release: “Kroger also offers one of the largest organic produce departments in America, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a growing selection of organic fruits and vegetables.” Costco is also […]

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Secrecy of Pesticide Safety Data and Ingredients Does Not Protect Public Health and the Environment

Monday, May 14th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2018) Under EPA Administrator Pruitt’s proposed “transparency” plan, the public will still lack access to key data about the effects and efficacy of commercial poisons approved for sale and application in their communities and homes. Tell EPA to adopt a real transparency plan for pesticides! The proposed policy, posted on April 30 in the Federal Register, declares that it will “help ensure that EPA is pursuing its mission of public health and the environment in a manner that the public can trust and understand,” yet it applies only to a very limited set of studies used to support certain EPA regulations. The pesticide registration and review processes are particularly lacking in transparency, opportunity for public review, and access to data. Because pesticides are toxic chemicals broadcast into the environment, nowhere is transparency more important than in pesticide registration. The proposed new policy does not cover pesticide registrations, warning labels, use restrictions, or proof of effectiveness. In the current process, the pesticide manufacturer produces the underlying data for these EPA approvals and controls access to them. Thus, despite Pruitt’s sweeping claims of “transparency in regulatory science”: The public does not have access to the underlying data provided by the manufacturer […]

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