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What’s on My Seeds? Study Finds Most Don’t Know What Pesticides Coat the Seeds They Plant, including Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2020) Adding to the widespread and problematic use of neonicotinoid pesticides as seed treatments, a recent study published in BioScience finds that there are significant knowledge gaps among some farmers about the seeds they are planting. The research indicates that those gaps contribute to underreporting of accurate data on the use of pesticide-coated (often with neonicotinoid pesticides) seeds — because farmers may not know what pesticides are on the seeds they plant. Pennsylvania State University reports on the study, in Phys.org, saying, “This lack of data may complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies, while also protecting human health and the environment.” Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices that precludes the use of such pesticides.  The research was conducted by a team of scientist from around the U.S., led by Claudia Hitaj, PhD, of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, and former economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service. In the Phys.org coverage of the study, assistant professor of epidemiology and crop pathology at Penn State, Paul Esker, PhD, notes that this lack of farmer knowledge can lead to overuse of pesticides, which would increase the already considerable risks […]

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Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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Global Growth of Organic Farmland Further Advances UN Sustainable Development Goals

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2020) Worldwide, organic farming practices quadrupled from 2000 to 2018, with over 180 countries leading a global transition to organic agriculture. Newly published global survey data by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – Organics International (IFOAM) reveal global organic agriculture to be at an all-time high, with 71.5 million hectares (mha) of farmland in production. Organic agriculture’s rise in popularity makes important progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as organic agriculture is essential for a sustainable future; it is a solution to the global food crisis and eliminating the health risks engendered by chemical-intensive farming. According to Monica Rubiolo, PhD of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), “Access to quality data on organic farming not only helps to measure success toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but also to orient decision-makers and other stakeholders along the whole value chain.” In a period of rapid population growth, a climate crisis, environmental degradation, and high energy costs, organic farming addresses human health, environment, and socioeconomic concerns. Organically managed farmland increased by a total of 2 mha (2.9%), in all continents, between 2017 and 2018. Australia has […]

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Plant Organic Seeds and Plants; Tell Your State to Act to Protect Pollinators This Spring

Monday, March 9th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2020) It’s time to think about gardening! Whether you’re growing vegetables to eat or flowers for pollinators, you’ll want to be sure that your seeds and plants are free from harmful pesticides. Seeds and plants in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with toxic fungicides and bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them. Plant organic seeds and plants! As bees suffer serious declines in their populations, we urge people and communities to plant habitat that supports pollinator populations, and have provided information to facilitate this in our BEE Protective Habitat Guide. However, plants are too often grown with hazardous pesticides that either harm pollinators in their cultivation or threaten bees as they pollinate or forage on treated plants. For more information on the dangers of neonicotinoid coated seeds, see Beyond Pesticides’ short video Seeds That Poison. Beyond Pesticides has compiled a 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. Specific questions on each seller’s seeds can be directed to their customer service line. You can also download a handy bi-fold brochure version of this […]

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Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Friday, March 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

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Bader Farms Wins $265 Million in Lawsuit Against Bayer’s Monsanto, BASF

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2020) Missouri’s largest peach farm, Bader Farms, is set to receive $265 million in compensation from two multinational agrichemical companies after the companies’ dicamba-based weed killers caused widespread damage to the farm’s fruit trees. Bayer’s Monsanto and BASF were found to be responsible for negligence in the design of their dicamba herbicides, and failure to warn farmers about the dangers of their products. The jury determined that the joint venture between the two companies amounted to a conspiracy to create an “ecological disaster” in the name of profit. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Bayer Monsanto’s release of a new line of genetically engineered (GE) seeds designed to tolerate repeated spraying of dicamba. With glyphosate resistant ‘super-weeds’ widespread and threatening GE farmer’s yields, the company aimed to redeploy dicamba, one of the oldest herbicides in the market, on cotton and soybeans throughout the U.S. Knowing the propensity of dicamba to drift for miles off site, Bayer’s Monsanto promised a new product line with much lower volatility.  But as the company was waiting on approval for this product by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it nonetheless began selling its dicamba-tolerant seeds. This led to […]

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Experts Identify Fireflies as the Latest Victim of the Ongoing Insect Apocalypse

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2020) The ongoing insect apocalypse isn’t sparing the iconic firefly. In an article published this month, “A Global Perspective on Firefly Extinction Threats,” experts are sounding the alarm over declines in fireflies attributed to habitat loss, light pollution, and indiscriminate pesticide use. “Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers and firefly fans everywhere,” said study co-author Sonny Wong, PhD, of the Malaysian Nature Society to USA Today. “We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time.” Although there is scant monitoring data on firefly populations, studies that have been conducted over the last decade, alongside anecdotal reports and expert opinion, have led to international concern. To assess conservation status and threats to firefly species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) established a Firefly Specialist Group. The study, part of the specialist group’s investigation, surveyed firefly experts from around the world on what they viewed as the primary threats to firefly populations. Experts specified habitat loss, light pollution, and pesticide use as the three top concerns, though water pollution, tourism, invasive species, and climate change were also discussed as minor contributing factors. Night-time […]

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EPA Set to Reapprove Cancer-Causing Glyphosate and Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoids

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2020) It was a good day for Bayer/Monsanto. The chemical company’s weed killer glyphosate and its neonicotinoid insecticides are set for reapproval by the U,S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to interim decisions published last week. EPA reapproval of human carcinogens and chemicals contributing to the pollinator crisis is disappointing for health and environmental advocates, but not surprising to those watchdogging the agency during the current administration. “This is how a captured agency behaves,” said Beyond Pesticides community resource and policy director Drew Toher. “When EPA’s decision making repeatedly reflects the exact wishes of the chemical industry, public trust erodes, and we must look to new policy mechanisms that support the protection of health and the environment.”   On Glyphosate EPA’s glyphosate decision document glosses over the hazards of the chemical and is requiring very few new safety measures when using the herbicide. These measures are focused on agriculture, including minor label changes around drift, guidelines on resistance management, and a label advisory indicating the chemical is toxic to plants and may adversely impact pollinator foraging. The restrictions fail to match those proposed by Health Canada in 2015, which included buffer zones and restricted entry intervals. […]

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Save Mayflies and the Ecosystems that Depend on Them

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies where they have been historically abundant. The research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are extremely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ask Congress to tell EPA, USDA, and the Department of Interior to develop a joint effort to ensure that its decisions and compliance with its authorizing statutes address the crisis of the threat to mayflies. Ephemeroptera to entomologists—“mayflies” to the rest of us—is an insect order comprising keystone species, on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The plummeting mayfly “count” is especially alarming because mayflies are a critical, primary food source in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and provide an important ecological service. As the research study notes, “Seasonal animal movement […]

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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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Documented Decline of Mayflies, a Keystone Species, Destabilizes Ecosystems

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies in territories where they have been historically abundant. Reported by National Geographic and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are exquisitely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ephemeroptera to entomologists — and “mayflies” to the rest of us — are a keystone species, one on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The Latinate name is apt: mayflies are among the most short-lived organisms, with lifespans across the 2,000+ known species lasting from five minutes to one day to a few weeks. Like damselflies and dragonflies, members of an ancient group of insects, the 600 North American species, as do their global kin, make optimal reproductive […]

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European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Citing Health and Environmental Concerns

Friday, January 17th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2020) In Brussels, the European Commission (EC) has just decided not to renew approval of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiacloprid, citing both environmental and health concerns related to use of and exposure to the pesticide. The decision was approved by a majority of European Union (EU) governments last fall, after the EC had made the proposal to them. The EC based that proposal on findings of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in January 2019, which highlighted concerns about toxicity to humans and high concentrations in groundwater. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides commented, “There are environmental concerns related to the use of this pesticide, particularly its impact on groundwater, but also related to human health, in reproductive toxicity.” The current EU use approval for thiacloprid products expires on April 30, 2020. The EC decision — functionally, a ban — means that farmers will need to turn to other means to deal with the primary thiacloprid targets in agriculture, aphids and whiteflies. Beyond Pesticides and many organic agricultural resources advocate for widespread adoption of organic, regenerative systems and practices. Such systems may include management features such as mechanical and biological controls, trap crops, natural […]

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Take Action: Help Restore Protections for Migratory Birds

Monday, January 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2020) Birds are facing an existential crisis. Three billion birds have disappeared since 1970. Two out of three birds are threatened by climate change. In spite of this crisis, our nation’s most important bird protection law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is being weakened by the Trump Administration’s Department of the Interior. Ask your U.S. Representative to support and cosponsor the Migratory Bird Protection Act. Thank those who are already cosponsors. Songbirds Threatened. The poisonous farm fields that migratory birds forage reduce their weight, delay their travel, and ultimately jeopardize their survival, according to “A neonicotinoid insecticide reduces fueling and delays migration in songbirds,“ published in the journal Science. Like their effects on insect pollinator populations, neonicotinoid insecticides generally do not cause acute poisoning and immediate death, but instead precipitate a cascade of sublethal impacts reducing their fitness in the wild. As the authors told Environmental Health News, the study is a call not simply to ban neonics or one class of chemical, but to change the entire farming system toward more sustainable bird and bee-friendly practices. Bird Habitat Threatened in Arkansas. A citizen science monitoring project of Audubon Arkansas found evidence of contamination from the weed killer dicamba far […]

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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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Brexit Predicted to Lead to Regulatory Decline and Increased Hazards from Pesticides

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2019) The potential exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) — aka “Brexit” — may portend greater pesticide use and exposures, according to a report from the Soil Association and the Pesticide Action Network UK. As covered by The Guardian, the report’s prediction points to uncertainty, despite reassurances from the United Kingdom (UK) government, about what regulatory standards will actually be in effect if and when Brexit occurs. The report also highlights the under-regulated issue identified in the report’s title — The Cocktail Effect — synergistic impacts of exposures to multiple synthetic pesticide compounds. Beyond cessation of pesticide use, Beyond Pesticides advocates for more rigorous review of synergistic effects of pesticides in the U.S. In the UK, environmental and health advocates are voicing worries that the government’s reassurances that existing standards will be maintained after a Brexit is unconvincing. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove insists that environmental standards would be enhanced following a UK exit from the EU. But advocates are concerned about potential loopholes that could allow farmers to use more pesticides on crops than the EU regulations permit, and could greenlight the import of foodstuffs with greater amounts of pesticide residue than […]

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City of South Miami Becomes First Organic Community in Florida

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2019) The City of South Miami last month became the first organic community in the state of Florida, passing a landmark ordinance limiting hazardous pesticide use on public property in favor of safer practices. An increasing number of communities in the state have begun to restrict the use of toxic pesticides, with North Miami passing an Integrated Pest Management plan last year, and Miami, Stuart, and Key West banning glyphosate. South Miami, under the direction of Mayor Phillip Stoddard, PhD, professor of Biological Science at Florida International University, has a history of leading the state in the protection of public health and the environment. In 2014, the City Commission voted to declare all of South Miami a wildlife sanctuary, thereby restricting the use of highly toxic mosquito adulticides. The move protected populations of the state’s rare and endemic wildlife, such as the Florida bonneted bat, which begins to feed on mosquitoes in the spring at the same time spraying usually begins. The City’s move toward organic landscaping was borne out of two years of successful trials by city workers and contractors. In 2017, its landscaping request for proposals (RFP) required that, in addition to practices intended […]

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In the Fight to Protect Pollinators, New Hampshire Pollinator Bill Stalls as Massachusetts Advocates Gear Up

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2019) Legislatures in two New England states continue to deliberate environmental and public health measures aimed at protecting pollinators, safeguarding schoolchildren, and eliminating toxic pesticides. In Massachusetts, dozens of advocates packed a crowded hearing room for a slate of 16 bills before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. In New Hampshire, advocates were dismayed that, after a successful vote in subcommittee, the House Environment and Agriculture committee voted to weaken HB646, the Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act, into an interim study measure. The stalling of NH’s HB646 came as the pesticide industry, state agencies, and the state agricultural commissioner placed significant pressure on lawmakers, forwarding the idea that the science on the dangers neonicotinoids pose to pollinators is too complex for lawmakers to understand. Local advocate Fawn Gaudet of Save Our NH Pollinator Coalition responded with a passionate, science-based editorial in the Concord Monitor underlining the need for urgent action. However, arguments from pesticide industry proponents sowed the seeds of doubt, deferring to the current Environmental Protection Agency, despite its repeated failures to step up and protect pollinators. An amendment weakening the legislation was introduced by State Representative Peter Bixby (D-Strafford), but not […]

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Threat of Pesticides to Endangered Species Continues

Friday, November 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2019) The Endangered Species Coalition has released its newest annual report on the 10 U.S. species most threatened by pesticide use, Poisoned: 10 American species imperiled by pesticides. Produced with seven of its member groups, the coalition introduces the report by noting, “Our world is awash in chemicals. We’re particularly addicted to pesticides.” It points to well-known harms, and identifies the exacerbating factors of both climate change and the Trump administration, the latter of which “denies the reality of climate change and has dramatically changed how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented, leaving vulnerable species at far greater risk.” The introduction ends on a somewhat encouraging tone, saying that previous administrations have supported record growth in organic farming — the solution to pesticides harms that Beyond Pesticides has long endorsed — and that “any administration has the power to get us back on track and away from pesticides.” Impacts on wildlife linked to pesticide exposures — including mammals, bees and other pollinators, fish and other aquatic organisms, birds, and the biota within soil — have been well documented by Beyond Pesticides, and include reproductive, neurological, renal, hepatic, endocrine disruptive, and developmental anomalies, as well as […]

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Neonicotinoid Insecticides Deprive Fish of Food in Lake Shinji, Japan

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2019) Between 1981 and 1992, Japanese fishers annually reaped an average of 240 tons of smelt from Lake Shinji. After 1993, their nets turned up about 22 tons – a 90% drop in their yield. Eel catches dropped by 74%. New research, published in the journal Science, implicates the introduction of neonicotinoids to the abutting watershed in the decimation of these aquatic populations, stating, “In Lake Shinji, neonicotinoids indirectly reduced fishery yields by decreasing the abundance of invertebrates that serve as food for smelt and eels.” Researchers analyzed decades of data on zooplankton, midges, and water quality as well as annual fishery yields of eel and smelt spanning from 1981-2014. Zooplankton biomass, an important fodder for smelt, plummeted from 108 ”g C L−1 to 18.2 ”g C L−1 after imidacloprid was introduced for use on rice paddies in May of 1993. Midges (Cyathura muromiensis) that were found in abundance in 1982 totally disappeared from all sample sites by 2016. While the smelt and eel populations drastically declined, the authors note that icefish, which eat a more diversified diet, were not impacted. Though researchers considered the possibilities of other influencing factors such as invasive species, hypoxia, and […]

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U.S. Consumers Eating Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables, according to Government Report

Friday, November 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2019) The recently published report Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Fiscal Year 2017 Pesticide Report, from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), provides data on the levels of pesticide residues that show up on the foods U.S. consumers eat. The report adds fuel to public concern about contamination of the food supply, and to discussion in the scientific and advocacy communities about what is and is not safe for human health. It is also a sobering reminder of just how much chemical-intensive agriculture depends on pesticides, whether insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. This FDA report has been prepared annually since 1987 and is based on the agency’s Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, which evaluates both domestically produced and imported human food samples, including fruit, vegetable, and animal products. As the report notes, “Three federal government agencies share responsibility for the regulation and oversight of pesticide chemical residues in or on food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers (i.e., approves) the use of pesticides and establishes tolerances for pesticide chemical residues in or on food resulting from the use of the pesticides. Tolerances are the EPA-established maximum residue levels (MRLs) of a specific pesticide chemical that is permitted in […]

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Agreement Protects Willapa Bay and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge from Highly Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Friday, October 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2019) Washington State officials have approved an agreement that will prevent oyster growers farming in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor from spraying the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide, imidacloprid, on tidal flats to kill native burrowing shrimp. The development comes after years of discussion and dispute among the Washington State Department of Ecology, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association. Beyond Pesticides has advocated for protection of these relatively pristine estuary areas from toxic pesticides since 2002, when it worked for (ultimately successful) elimination of the use of the highly toxic carbaryl against the shrimp. More recently, it has reported and weighed in frequently on use of imidacloprid and efforts to eliminate its use, as well as on broad contamination of waterways by neonics. Neonics are well documented to be a huge threat to pollinators and other nontarget organisms, as well as to the environment at large. Imidacloprid is banned by the European Union for outdoor use, and Canada is scheduled to announce details by year’s end on its implementation of a phaseout of neonics. Washington State’s own risk assessment study found that use of imidacloprid on tidelands showed “immediate adverse, unavoidable […]

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