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Take Action: Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to Support Monarch Habitat

Monday, December 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2017) Tell the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to substantially increase the amount of funding spent on the conservation of monarch butterflies and the restoration of their habitat, and to ensure that restored habitat is not poisoned with hazardous pesticides. Although the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs –including the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund— last year’s NRCS expenditure of $4 million was insufficient to prevent the monarchs’ decline, and could not even begin stemming the loss of milkweed habitat. Restoring the monarch butterfly and its habitat will require a substantial contribution from the agricultural sector and strong leadership from the NRCS. Agricultural lands encompass 77% of all prospective monarch habitat, and thus are indispensable to reaching these goals. Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent over the last 20 years, and it is estimated that there is a 60 percent chance the multigenerational migration of these butterflies would completely collapse in the next 20 years. Milkweed, the only forage for monarch caterpillars, has decreased by 21 percent, especially in the Midwest, where agricultural fields and pesticide use have expanded. Scientists estimate […]

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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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Groups Urge Trump Administration to Protect Monarch Butterflies

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2017) Last week over 100 conservation and environmental groups urged the federal government to increase funding to protect and conserve monarch butterflies. These iconic butterflies, native to North America, have seen drastic declines in their populations. Surveys report over 80 percent reductions in populations over the last 20 years. Pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change have all been identified as stressors to these butterflies. The groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do more to help the imperiled butterfly. The letter requests the agency increase the allotment of conservation funds from $4 million- spent last year- to $100 million. The increase in funds is needed for efforts to increase milkweed habitat. In contrast, the government spent over $500 million on sage grouse initiatives to prevent that animal’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), even though the Trump Administration is seeking to overturn these initiatives. Currently, the agency has taken some steps to protect monarchs. These include the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project and support of the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. But, according […]

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Fungicides Tied to Declining Bumblebee Populations in the United States

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2017) Fungicides are likely playing an important role in the decline of North American bumblebee populations, according to new research published by a team at Cornell University. While overwhelming data continue to indicate that insecticides, particularly the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, are the leading factor in overall pollinator declines, Cornell scientists discovered that fungicides, in particular the chemical chlorothalonil, are likely compounding risk and toxicity for U.S. bumblebee species. As new studies continue to expand the chemical culprits in pollinator declines, calls for a wholesale change in agricultural practices toward more sustainable organic production are reinforced. Cornell researchers began their investigation by focusing on what land use factors had the most impact on eight bumblebee species, many of which have been declining in the U.S. Bumblebee species were sampled at nearly 300 sites in 40 states during the summer months, and at each of the sampling sites, landscape variables were characterized and quantified for land use (urban v rural), habitat (high vs low latitude), and pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide) usage. The strongest indicator of declining range within the selected bumblebee species was found to be overall fungicide use, with those in the northern U.S. undergoing the […]

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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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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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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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Take Action: Oppose Legislation Weakening Endangered Species Protection from Pesticides

Monday, November 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2017) The pesticide industry is drafting legislation that threatens to remove provisions of the Endangered Species Act that protect species from pesticides. Tell your Congressional delegation to oppose all efforts to reduce endangered species protections from pesticides. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. It represents a commitment to protect and restore those species most at risk of extinction. Recent polling shows 84 percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and 87 percent agree that it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants, insects, and fish from extinction. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years. An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. In the case of pesticides, EPA is required to perform such a consultation if […]

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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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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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Take Action: Your Comments Are Needed, Again, to Save a National Treasure –Willapa Bay

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2017) Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, with a number of unique ecosystems, and among the most important estuaries in the U.S, are once more in danger of being sprayed with the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. A draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) produced by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) considers two options for spraying imidacloprid and one no-action alternative. Imidacloprid would be sprayed to kill the native burrowing shrimp in beds of commercial Japanese oysters. Tell Ecology to restore the bays instead of spraying them! Ecology’ssummary highlights: ⦁    Immediate adverse, unavoidable impacts to juvenile worms, crustaceans, and shellfish in the areas treated with imidacloprid and the nearby areas covered by incoming tides. ⦁    Limited impacts bay-wide, but significant uncertainty about the cumulative impacts and other unknown impacts, including those to other marine invertebrates and lifecycles. ⦁    Little direct risk to fish, birds, marine mammals, and human health. ⦁    Potential indirect impacts to fish and birds if food sources are disrupted. ⦁    Continued knowledge gaps about imidacloprid. Further research is needed. The SEIS fails to give adequate weight to the “knowledge gaps” it identifies, in some cases indicating that monitoring during use of imidacloprid could be used […]

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Majority of World’s Honey Contaminated with Bee Killing Pesticides

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2017) Honey throughout the world is contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, chemicals implicated in global decline of pollinator populations. The extent of contamination recorded in the new Science study —with the chemicals detected on every continent except Antarctica, even in honey produced in small isolated islands— is symptomatic of a world awash in toxic pesticides. The results call into question globalized mores that have permitted chemical insecticides to pervade the environment, and signal the need to transform pest management to integrated organic systems that respect nature. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and transported into the pollen, nectar, and guttation (drops of xylem sap) drops the plant produces. They are mobile in soil, so quantities of the chemical that are not taken up by plants after an application leach through the soil column into local waterways. Pollinators come into contact with these insecticides through their normal course of foraging and pollination. Out of 198 honey samples collected as part of a global citizen science project and subsequently tested by Swiss scientists, 75% of samples contained a measurable level of neonicotinoids. Broken down by region, North America represented the highest frequency […]

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Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered Species from Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2017) Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of neonicotinoid pesticides – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid, and the agency’s failure to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the pesticides’ impact on threatened or endangered species. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges the failure of the federal government to evaluate the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) on threatened and endangered species, like the rusty patched bumble bee, the black-capped vireo, and the San Bruno elfin butterfly. The suit cites widespread presence of neonics in the environment which presents serious risks to wildlife across large portions of the country. It contends that they pose significant adverse consequences to threatened and endangered species. According to the lawsuit, because of toxicity and pervasive environmental contamination, NRDC is now challenging EPA’s registrations of pesticide products containing one of three main neonic active ingredients—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—and seeks vacatur of those registrations until EPA complies with the law. “The EPA ignored endangered bees, butterflies, and birds when it approved the widespread use of neonics,” said Rebecca Riley, a senior […]

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Action Needed: Last Chance to Comment on National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall Issues

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2017) The comment period closes Wednesday, October 11 at 11:59 pm EDT for the Fall 2017 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. In addition to the other priorities in our previous alert (hydroponics, marine materials, and “inerts”), we focus attention here on eliminating the incentive to convert native ecosystems into organic crop production, strengthening and clarifying the requirements for the use of organic seed, exempt/uncertified handler and brokers, and the need for a comprehensive review of sanitizers used in organic. New to Regulations.gov? See our two-minute tutorial. Comment now! Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. If you have limited time, you can use the sample comments on priority issues below. If you have more time, please use the information on our website to develop your own comments. If you paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance of these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer, or other concerned party. Some major issues being considered at the Fall meeting are: Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into Organic Crop Production The proposal must […]

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California Court of Appeal Rejects California’s Approval of Bee-Killing Pesticides

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2017) The First District California Court of Appeal issued an opinion Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging a California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) decision to approve additional uses for two bee-killing pesticides without disclosing the impact on honeybees. Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, and Beyond Pesticides, represented by Earthjustice, filed the underlying lawsuit in 2014, seeking to halt DPR’s practice of approving ever more uses for neonicotinoid pesticides pending completion of the agency’s languishing scientific review of the evidence linking agricultural use of neonicotinoids to a global honeybee die-off. DPR began its scientific review in early 2009 after it received evidence that neonicotinoids are killing bees, but DPR has yet to complete its review or take meaningful action to protect bees. Instead, DPR has continued to allow increased use of neonicotinoids in California. “DPR acknowledged almost 10 years ago that neonicotinoids are killing bees, yet the agency has approved more and more uses for these toxic pesticides every year since,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “It’s time for DPR to do its job and protect honeybees and the multi-billion dollar agricultural economy that bees make possible in this State.” At issue […]

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Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction; Pesticides, Habitat Loss to Blame

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2017) According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction – 86 percent in the next 50 years. The researchers do not know the exact cause but identify habitat loss and widespread pesticide use as likely culprits. Migratory monarchs in the west could disappear in the next few decades if steps are not taken to recover the population, the study’s lead author, Cheryl Schultz, PhD, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver states. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts. In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000,” she said. Western monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have a spectacular migration. They overwinter in forested groves along coastal California, then lay their eggs on milkweed and drink nectar from flowers in the spring in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. They then return to their coastal overwintering sites in the fall. Eastern monarch, whose numbers are also in decline, travel instead across the border into Mexico to wait out the winter. The researchers from […]

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September’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Bog Copper Butterfly

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2017) The bog copper butterfly (Lycaena epixante) is a member of the second largest family of butterflies, Lycaenidae, which includes over 4,700 species worldwide. Also known as the cranberry-bog copper butterfly, the species has strong biological ties to cranberry plants and its associated habitat. Range Bog coppers are unevenly distributed throughout Northeast United States and into Canada, with some ranging as far west as Minnesota. Populations are generally concentrated in acid bog environments containing wild cranberry, but have also been sighted in other damp acidic habitats, such as wet meadows. The butterfly requires an environment that is wet year-round, with ample sunlight. Bog coppers are highly adapted to this environment and do not migrate. Diet and Pollination The life cycle of the bog copper strongly depends on cranberry plants. Female butterflies lay single eggs leaves in late summer or early fall on the leaves of cranberry plants, usually near the edge of the bog, covered with sedges. Each female may lay 20-40 eggs. After developing into a first stage larva within the egg, the larva is protected from ice and freezing temperature during the winter by entering state of diapause, or dormancy. The egg is protected […]

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Take Action this Labor Day: Tell Your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s False Safety Claims that Hurt Workers

Friday, September 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2017) Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.” Act now to urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto. Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea. The additional ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic […]

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Take Action: Back-to-School; Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

Monday, August 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2017) School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically. Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students. In addition, there are other things you can do: Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins. For Parents and Teachers: Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of […]

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Neonicotinoid Insecticides Stop Queen Bumblebees from Laying Eggs, Raising Extinction Concerns

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2017) Common pesticides used on canola crops significantly reduce bumblebee egg laying and may lead to local population extinction, according to new research published in the journal Nature by scientists at the Royal Holloway University of London. This is the latest study to investigate how neonicotinoids, insecticides linked to the global decline of pollinator populations, are changing the landscape that humans rely on for food production and other ecological services. Although this eye-opening study should be a wake-up call for regulators in the U.S., there is little indication that federal agencies tasked with protecting pollinators and the wider environment are willing to make changes that would affect the profits of multinational chemical companies. Researchers began their study by visiting canola fields in the United Kingdom that had been treated with neonicotinoids, observing the distribution of various bumblebee species. One of the most abundant species found is Bombus terrestris, a key pollinator and the most common bumblebee throughout Europe. Colonies of B. terrestris were then purchased commercially, and roughly 230 queens were successfully mated in the lab. In addition to pesticide exposure, scientists used length of hibernation as a variable in their experiment. This is because bumblebee […]

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Lawsuit Filed to Stop Expansion of Aquaculture Industry that Decimates Marine Life

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2017) The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with an expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture on the Washington state coast without any water quality or marine life protections from pesticide use and habitat loss. This is just the latest in efforts to protect sensitive coastal areas in Washington from shellfish farming that is contributing to increased pesticide use and environmental degradation. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington earlier this month, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of a nationwide permit (NWP 48), which, according to the suit, “greenlights a massive expansion of shellfish aquaculture with entirely inadequate protections.” The Corps has a duty to protect public water from adverse impacts, but potential environmental impacts have not properly assessed or considered, the suit claims, in violation of the Corps’ environmental protection mission. The lawsuit argues that the Corps, when it approved the Washington state permit, violated numerous environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act. According to CFS, the permit issued will allow shellfish aquaculture acreage […]

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USGS Report Shows Dozens of Pesticides Consistently Found in Midwestern Streams, Underscoring the Need for Organic Practices

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2017) Streams in the Midwestern U,S. are polluted with complex mixtures averaging over 50 pesticides each, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report published earlier this month. This is the latest and also most extensive study on pesticide contamination in U.S. streams to date. The shocking results put many aquatic plants and animals at existential risk, leading health and environmental advocates to ask how the federal government can continue to permit U.S. streams to be used as a mixing bowl for toxic pesticide compounds. Each week between May and August of 2013, USGS sampled 100 streams located in 11 Midwestern states for 228 pesticides and their breakdown products. Based on site location, 88 of these streams are considered agricultural, while 12 are considered urban. “About 150 million pounds of pesticides are applied annually in the Midwestern U.S.,” said Lisa Nowell, PhD, research chemist and lead scientist on the study. “Understanding which pesticides are occurring at levels potentially toxic to aquatic life, and where they occur, is crucial to informing management decisions.” Of the 1,200 samples collected over the study’s 12 week period, scientists detected 183 pesticide compounds (98 of the 124 herbicides tested, 71 of […]

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Reports of Increasing Honey Bee Colonies Mask Continuing Pollinator Crisis

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2017)  New data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier this month, indicating a slight increase in the number of honey bee colonies, is masked by beekeepers’ efforts to split hives in the face of losses. The USDA reports that Colony Collapse Disorder losses (CCD) are down 27% compared to the past year. While these numbers may seem to be a positive sign after over a decade of consistent pollinator declines, they are more indicative of a beekeeping industry that is using every available tactic possible to stay viable. With the continued use of highly toxic neonicotinoid insecticides in farms, gardens, and public spaces throughout the country, the long-term health honey bees and other pollinators continue to be in jeopardy. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of beekeeping operations with five or more colonies reported a total of 2.89 million colonies in April 2017, a 3% increase from April 2016, when numbers stood at 2.80 million. News media such as Bloomberg hailed this report in an article headlined “Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder.” However, a closer look into the numbers and beekeeper accounts reveals what is actually occurring. A more accurate […]

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