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We Must End the Sixth Extinction

Monday, September 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2021) Scientists warn that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. A series of reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlights how human activities threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water, as well as one million species now at risk of extinction. The UNEP report, Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, identifies the global food system as the primary driver of biodiversity loss. The report points to the conversion of natural ecosystems to crop production and pasture, with concomitant use of toxic chemicals, monoculture, and production of greenhouse gases.  In view of the many steps that have been identified to stop both biodiversity loss and global climate change, it is beyond disappointing to see our “Environmental Protection Agency” continuing to allow use of chemicals that it recognizes will contribute to the problems. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.” It has been ratified by 196 nations—all the members of the United Nations […]

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Retailers Fail to Protect Pollinators…Badly

Friday, September 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2021) Against the backdrop of what The New York Times in 2018 called the “insect apocalypse,” and the dire plight of pollinators in particular, Friends of the Earth (FOE) recently issued its retailer scorecard, which benchmarks “25 of the largest U.S. grocery stores on pesticides, organic offerings and pollinator health”— with the vast majority of retailers failing to protect pollinators. FOE reporting shows some, but far too slow and anemic, progress by corporate actors in enacting pollinator- and bee-friendly policies across both retail sites and supply chains. Such policies, to be genuinely effective and protective of pollinators (and human health), would eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the presence of pesticides in the food supply. The path out of the chemical pesticide quagmire is organic: companies must do more to move suppliers to organic, regenerative production practices, and EPA should be pulling these toxic compounds from the market. Tracking the pollinator policies and enforcement activities of various huge companies yields a useful barometer in monitoring the travel of pesticides to the consumer. Yet the results in the FOE scorecard — e.g., only two of those 25 retailers scored even in the “B” range, and 21 scored […]

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Studies Show How Pesticides Harm Organisms that Form the Foundation of Freshwater Ecosystems

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2021) Toxic pesticide use, and glyphosate in particular, degrades the health of freshwater ecosystems by harming species that form the basis of aquatic food chains, according to research published by scientists at McGill University. In a series of studies, scientists investigated how freshwater bacteria and zooplankton were affected by varying levels the weed killer glyphosate, the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, and nutrient levels. “Because plankton form the foundation of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems, it is very important to understand how plankton communities respond to widely used pesticides,” said Jesse Shapiro, PhD, an Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “Our research shows that the structure of these communities can be impaired under currently acceptable North American water quality guidelines.” Two separate experiments were conducted under similar conditions in order to properly investigate the effects of pesticide exposure on either zooplankton or freshwater bacteria. For both studies, target species were exposed to varying rates of glyphosate, imidacloprid, or both chemicals at either high or low water nutrient levels. Researchers conducted this study by establishing a series of outdoor experimental ponds, intended to mimic freshwater ecosystems by using Lake water and evenly distributing organisms throughout […]

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Stamford, CT Passes Organic Land Ordinance Restricting Toxic Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on Public Property

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2021) Last week, Stamford, CT became the latest U.S. City to pass an organic community ordinance, restricting toxic pesticide use on public spaces in favor of safer, natural land care practices. The ordinance, championed by Nina Sherwood of the Stamford Board of Representatives with strong support from Stamford Mayor David Martin, is an outgrowth of years of research and coordination within city government. Advocates note that strong support from both national, state, and local groups like Pollinator Pathway Stamford helped make the case at public hearings. “By garnering support for the public hearing, many Stamford Pollinator Pathway members, Stamford residents and organizations from around the country let their voices be heard,” said Melanie Hollas, co-chair of Pollinator Pathway Stamford and a Stamford Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “Today, I am proud to be a Stamford resident and want to thank everyone, including Beyond Pesticides, for all their hard work to make this goal achievable.” Ms. Hollas describes the ordinance as, “a comprehensive easy to use system to help employees shift from long-term usage patterns of chemicals to products, and more importantly practices, that create a healthy ecosystem along with beautiful landscaping and usable sports fields.” The ordinance […]

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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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Bayer Files “Hail Mary” Petition with U.S. Supreme Court after Losing Jury Verdicts on Cancer Causing Roundup/Glyphosate

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 18, 2021) Multinational chemical company Bayer filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court this week, seeking a reversal of a lower court verdict that established Bayer liable for damages from the use of its weed killer Roundup. After purchasing Roundup-maker Monsanto in 2018, Bayer has been mired in a deluge of court battles from injured customers throughout the country who assert that their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide resulted in their cancer diagnosis. Bayer, for its part, has consistently lost these court cases. The company’s Supreme Court petition is now regarded as its best and last chance to avert responsibility for the ongoing harm to public health caused by its carcinogenic herbicide. Bayer’s Supreme Court challenge pertains to the Hardeman v. Monsanto case. In that suit, a California court found unanimously in favor of the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. Mr. Hardeman told the jury he had used Roundup since the 1980s to spray poison oak and weeds around his property, resulting in his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014. He was awarded $5.27 million, while his punitive damages were ultimately reduced from $75 to $20 million. Bayer is bringing two main arguments to the Supreme court. First, […]

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Of Multiple Stressors, Pesticides Are the Most Harmful to Bees by Acting Synergistically to Increase Mortality

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2021) Multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, act synergistically to increase the risk of bee mortality, according to a meta-analysis recently published in the journal Nature. The findings are yet another indictment of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system’s ability to protect pollinators, as the authors note that their results, “…demonstrate that the regulatory process in its current form does not protect bees from the unwanted consequences of complex agrochemical exposure.” As scientific community continues to confirm the dangers of pesticides and other anthropogenic stressors to pollinators, it remains up to advocates and other concerned residents to get regulators and policymakers to listen to and act on these critically important conclusions.   Scientists aimed to evaluate how combinations of multiple pesticides, parasites, and lack of floral resulted in bee death or subchronic effects that impacted overall fitness (reproductive ability, colony health, etc), behavior, parasite load, or immune response. The effects of multiple stressors can be characterized as antagonistic when stressors cancel themselves out, additive when the impacts seen are what would be predicted when summing the individual effects, and synergistic when the effects are multiple times more harmful than what would be predicted additively. To […]

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Biden EPA Reapproves Paraquat with Weaker Protections than Trump Administration Proposed

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2021) President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under Administrator Michael Regan, is set to reapprove the highly hazardous herbicide paraquat with fewer protections than those proposed by the Trump administration. Despite strong links to Parkinson’s, and bans on the herbicide in the European Union, China, Brazil, and many other countries, EPA’s press release inexplicably states, “No direct one-to-one alternatives to paraquat are available.” The move is part of a string of actions that have pesticide reform advocates increasingly concerned that the Biden Administration is not living up to his initial promises to improve health and environmental protections. Paraquat is the most toxic herbicide still on the market. As EPA readily admits, one small sip of paraquat can be fatal. Apart from its acute toxicity, chronic exposure to the herbicide is strongly linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. But its association with Parkinson’s is merely the most well-known health concern – the chemical is a likely carcinogen, harms the reproductive system, and damages organs like the kidney and liver. It is hazardous to birds and bees, and prone to leaching into groundwater, where it disrupts the health of aquatic ecosystems. The Trump administration’s decision to reapprove […]

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Biden EPA Must Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Poisoning

Monday, August 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2021) What’s going on at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Last month, Bayer/Monsanto announced it would voluntarily cancel “residential lawn and garden” uses of glyphosate products, “exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” EPA has done virtually nothing to restrict glyphosate/Roundup since the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic. It is now expected, as with other voluntary cancellations, that EPA will make no health or environmental findings that could affect other uses (e.g., agricultural) of glyphosate, but will accept the action by Bayer/Monsanto. The company refers to its action as “risk mitigation”—that’s risk to the company’s profitability, economic viability, and shareholder investment, not public health or environmental protection. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing. The Biden administration began with high hopes for the environment. Combating climate change is a priority. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review, that appears to establish a new framework supporting healthy people and ecosystems, as it […]

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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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Typical Neonicotinoid Insecticides at Any Level Likely to Kill Off Wild Pollinators

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2021) Neonicotinoid insecticides applied to nursery plants sold at garden centers kill off wild, solitary pollinators regardless of the amount applied, according to research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The news is unlikely a surprise for those tracking the science around pollinator declines, but nonetheless a stark reminder of the lack of progress from federal regulators to stop practices that contribute to the ongoing crisis. With new science consistently showing unacceptable hazards to pollinator populations, advocates are urging Congress to take up and pass the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. Since 2006, scientists and beekeepers have singled out neonicotinoids, a class of systemic insecticides, for their role in pollinator die-off and decline. Once applied onto a seed or sprayed on a plant, neonicotinoids distribute themselves throughout the plant’s structure. This causes soft-bodied sucking insects like aphids to be killed when they eat any part of the plant. However, neonicotinoids also make their way into the pollen and nectar the plant produces, as well as the dew drops plants will secrete and pollinators will often use to grab a quick drink. The use of these insecticides on native plants sold at nursery stores throughout […]

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Death of as Many as 107,000 Bumblebees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides Studied

Friday, July 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2021) Recently published research reviews the 2013 Wilsonville, Oregon mass bumblebee die-off from application of the neonicotinoid dinotefuran on 55 linden trees in a big-box-store parking lot. In that single event, the research paper (published in Environmental Entomology) estimates between 45,830 and 107,470 bumblebees from some 289–596 colonies were killed. Reporting on the new study, by Entomology Today, quotes primary conclusions of the co-authors: “Our study underscores the lethal impact of the neonicotinoid pesticide dinotefuran on pollinating insect populations,” and, “It is likely that the vast majority of mass pesticide kills of beneficial insects across other environments go unnoticed and unreported.” As Beyond Pesticides has chronicled, the U.S. and the world are undergoing a pollinator crisis, caused in significant part by agricultural pesticides. Dinotefuran, the neonicotinoid (neonic) that killed those Oregon bumblebees, is used against fleas, thrips, tree-boring caterpillars, emerald ash borers, hemlock woolly adelgids, and in the Oregon case, aphids. Entomology Today (ET) notes that the timing of this particular application could not have been worse: it happened on a warm day when the linden trees were in full flower and the bees out in force. Ironically, it occurred during Nation Pollinator Week. ET pens a […]

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Conservation Genomics Pinpoint Pesticides and Pathogens in Decline of Bumblebees

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2021) Bumblebees exposed to pesticides and pathogens display changes in gene expression that can be pinpointed and analyzed by cutting edge research tools, according to scientists at York university, who utilized the new technique in a study published in Molecular Ecology. This form of next-generation gene sequencing is part of a growing field of science known as conservation genomics, in which entire animal genomes are sequenced to determine conservation problems. “Next-generation sequencing is a totally new way to think about why bees are declining, which could revolutionize conservation biology,” says study coauthor Amro Zayed, PhD, associate professor in biology at York. “We’re looking directly at bee tissues  to try and get clues to the stressors that are affecting this bee. I think this is a gamechanger for sure. With a single study, we are able to implicate a couple of really obvious things we’ve talked about for years – pathogens and pesticides – in the case of Bombus terricola.” Researchers focused on Bombus terricola – the yellow banded bumblebee, as its range has declined significantly over the last two decades. The bumblebee was once common throughout the eastern and midwestern part of the U.S. and Canada, […]

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Tell Your Congressional Reps to Cosponsor Pollinator Legislation; Thank Those Who Already Have

Monday, July 12th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2021) During Pollinator Week 2021 in June, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) to reverse ongoing declines in wild and managed pollinators. New data released in June for 2020-21 documents the second highest honey bee losses in 15 years. SAPA uses the latest scientific research and perspectives to ensure that pollinators are protected. The bill suspends the use of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides and other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators until an independent board of experts determines that they are safe to use, based on a strong scientific assessment. Ask your elected representative in Congress to support pollinators by cosponsoring Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA). If they are already a cosponsor, use this occasion to thank them for their leadership on this critical issue. “Without our world’s pollinators, the world would be a very different place. These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures are essential elements of our food system. Losing them means we risk losing the very food we put on our table,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We must use every tool at our disposal to provide pollinators with much-needed relief from bee-toxic pesticides and monitor […]

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EPA Agenda Undermined by Its Embrace of Industry Influence, Article Documents

Friday, July 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2021) The investigative online publication The Intercept has turned its attention to the current and historical role of industry in distorting, undermining, and outright suppressing the protective function of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to pesticide exposures. The subsequent reporting — “The Department of Yes: How Pesticide Companies Corrupted the EPA and Poisoned America” — is a devastating chronicle of the theme and particulars that Beyond Pesticides has covered for years. That is, that EPA has repeatedly disregarded its charge to protect human and environmental health in favor of enabling industry to continue its chemical experimentation on the populace and on the nation’s multiple natural resources. This pattern must change if the agency is to enact its mission and the public is to be protected. The Intercept interviewed more than 24 people with expertise on the regulation of pesticides, including 14 who have worked in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). The chief takeaway from those interviews, as written by reporter Sharon Lerner, is that EPA “is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many […]

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Second Highest Honey Bee Loss in 15 Years Documented

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2021) The second highest bee loss in 15 years has reported by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) in its 2020–2021 National Colony Loss and Management Survey, released on June 30. For the “winter” period of October 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, approximately 32% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost. This represents an increase of 9.6% over the prior year’s winter loss and is roughly 4% higher than the previous 14-year average rate of loss. For all of the past year (April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021) the colony loss was 45.5%. Beyond Pesticides has covered the related issues of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing and devastating impacts of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, and the larger context of what some have called the “insect apocalypse.” These recent BIP data appear to indicate that “we,” writ large, are failing to remedy these problems. Three out of four food crops globally depend on pollinators, at least in part. Commercially kept bees account for a significant portion of pollination of some U.S. crops; almonds are the leading crop, followed by apples and melons. The commercial bee business is huge — a $691 million […]

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Maine Aerial Forestry Spray Ban of Glyphosate and Other Herbicides Vetoed by Governor, Override Effort Begins

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2021) Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) last week vetoed legislation prohibiting the aerial use of glyphosate and other dangerous herbicides in forestry practices. LD125, An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture, was supported by a wide range of health and conservation groups, and aimed to bring the state in line with best practices for public health and the environment. With Maine recently passing one of the strongest consumer bans on pollinator-toxic neonicotinoids, advocates are dismayed by the setback from the Governor’s office. In a statement to Maine Public Radio, Senate President Troy Jackson said that Governor Mills should stop referring to herself as an environmentalist. “The science across the country, across the world, says that this stuff kills people, kills wildlife,” Mr. Jackson says. “And all that it is, is a giveaway to the large landowners so they can maximize their profits off the lives of the people in Maine and the wildlife in Maine.” Senator Jackson’s words are stern yet factual. Glyphosate has been identified by the World Health Organization as a probable human carcinogen. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, has been the subject […]

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Saving America’s Pollinators Act Reintroduced, Advocates Urge Congressional Action to Stop Pollinator Decline

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2021) This Pollinator Week 2021, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) are reintroducing the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA) in an effort to reverse ongoing declines in wild and managed pollinators. SAPA uses the latest scientific research and perspectives to ensure that pollinators are protected. The bill suspends the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators until an independent board of experts determine that they are safe to use, based on strong scientific assessment. “Without our world’s pollinators, the world would be a very different place. These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures are essential elements of our food system. Losing them means we risk losing the very food we put on our table,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We must use every tool at our disposal to provide pollinators with much-needed relief from bee-toxic pesticides and monitor their populations to ensure their health and survival.”  Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides; once applied to a seed or sprayed on a plant they make their way into the pollen, nectar and dew droplets that plants produce and pollinators feed upon. Exposure impairs pollinator navigation, foraging, and learning behavior, and also suppresses their […]

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Pesticide Contamination in Waterways Raises New Alarm for Aquatic Life, Citing Poor Regulation

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2021) Small streams are prone to excessively high levels of pesticide contamination that are even more hazardous than once thought, according to a pilot study generated by a team of German researchers. The results indicate significant risks for the health of aquatic ecosystems and should be used as evidence for establishing greater protections from toxic pesticide use, researchers say. With many aquatic benchmarks set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lower than those established in Germany and the European Union, and evidence of widespread pesticide contamination in America’s waterways, the study could have even greater weight for for U.S. regulatory agencies’ deficiencies. Scientists established monitoring sites at more than 100 streams throughout Germany over the course of two years. Most sites were established near farm fields, where chemical farmers will use highly toxic pesticides than often make their way into local waterways. Streams were monitored for pesticide concentrations, with particular eye to whether they met the country’s regulatory acceptable concentration (RAC value) in a given water body. The RAC value is intended to be the highest level at which there will be no adverse effects on aquatic life, however these regulatory levels often do not correspond […]

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The Week of June 21 Is Pollinator Week—A Time to Take Personal and Community Action 

Monday, June 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2021) Pollinator Week reminds us that change is critical to the survival of the planet and that we can take action, both in our households and communities and in the state and federal policy arena.  Here’s how YOU can take action… Create an organic habitat on your own property or a space in the community—such as the library grounds, medians, and rights-of-way. Given that plant starts in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them, Beyond Pesticides has compiled a comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. [We are always updating the directory, so send us names of companies that should be added and we will.] Go organic in the management of all your town’s public spaces—parks, playing fields, school grounds, and open space. Check out the information on talking with your neighbors, local organizations, and elected officials about advancing our model local policy. Then you can see what other communities are doing across the country. Also, see the cost […]

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Maine Bans Consumer Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides, with Some Exceptions

Friday, June 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2021) As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to drag its feet on protective regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides, states continue to step up to restrict their use. In April, the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Janet Mills has now signed, a new law that will prohibit use of neonicotinoid pesticides with the “active ingredient[s] dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam used for application in outdoor residential landscapes such as on lawn, turf or ornamental vegetation” [links by Beyond Pesticides]. Though short of an outright ban, this law is a solid step forward for Maine in reining in use of these compounds, which are neurotoxicants widely implicated in pollinator (and other insect, bird, and mammal) harms or declines. Until a federal ban happens, Beyond Pesticides offers guidance on avoiding use of neonicotinoid pesticides through its fact sheet, Managing Pests Safely Without Neonicotinoids, and its Bee Protective web pages. This new Maine law does, however, include exemptions for wood preservation, indoor pest control, use on pets, treatment of structure foundations, and controlling invasive insect pests, such as the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock wooly adelgid. The statute leaves other large loopholes that will permit continued use […]

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Study Highlights Important Role Field Margins Play in Insect Conservation and Pest Management

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2021) Uncultivated field margins contain almost twice as many beneficial insects as cropped areas around farm fields, according to research published this week in the Journal of Insect Science. The study finds that these predators and parasitoids overwinter in diverse vegetation, and can provide farmers an important jump start on spring pest problems. “A benefit of understanding overwintering is that those arthropods that emerge in the spring may be more inclined to feed on pests when pest populations are low,” said Scott Clem, PhD, coauthor of the study. “And so, they may be more likely to nip pest populations in the bud before the pest problem becomes a big deal.” The study focused on five organic farms, as conventional chemically sprayed fields are not conducive to a thriving overwintering insect population. The farms, all located in the Midwest, each had 10 emergence tents set up both in the middle of the field and around field edges. Emergence tents capture insects that have spent their winter in soil and prevent predatory insects from escaping scientific analysis. After the tents were set up in mid-March 2018, samples were taken in late March, mid-April, and at the end of […]

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Switzerland to Hold Landmark Vote on Nationwide Ban of All Synthetic Pesticides June 13

Friday, June 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2021) On Sunday, June 13, Switzerland will hold a national vote on two landmark initiatives related to pesticide use (as well as several referenda). The vote on one initiative, dubbed by advocates “For a Switzerland Free of Synthetic Pesticides” (FSFSP), will determine whether or not the country will ban synthetic pesticides. If it does, it will become the first European nation to do so. The other initiative, which aims to eliminate direct subsidies of farmers who use synthetic pesticides or antibiotics for livestock, is focused on improving the quality of Switzerland’s drinking water and food supply. Beyond Pesticides covered the grassroots origin of the Swiss “no synthetic pesticides” initiative in 2018 and sees potential passage of both it and the water quality initiative as a watershed moment in the protection of health and the environment. These measures would go a long way to protecting and improving the health of humans and ecosystems, and the food supply, as well as protecting biodiversity in Switzerland. It could also — as advocates hope — encourage other European countries to follow suit. This vote has been scheduled, in part, as an outcome of a 2018 petition by the advocacy group, Future3, […]

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