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

Friday, May 7th, 2021

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

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Breakdown Products (Metabolites) from Pesticides May Be More Toxic than Parent Compound, Study Finds

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2021) Nearly half of all breakdown products (transformation products) from four common-use environmental pesticides produce stronger endocrine (hormone) disrupting (ED) effects than the parent compound, according to new research published in Environment International. Over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts—from chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products—are commonly present in water bodies, food commodities, and human blood/urine samples. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, producing endocrine-disrupting effects that put the health of animals, humans, and the environment at risk. Many ecological and health risk assessments for pesticides focus on the effects of parent chemical compound products, overlooking the potential impacts of transformation products (TPs). Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of TPs to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. The researchers note, “Since an increasing number of pesticide TPs have been detected in various environmental media, a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological risk of pesticide TPs is imperative for risk assessments more extensively and regulatory policy-making on pesticide restriction in the future.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem), including pesticides, bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals. Past research demonstrates exposure […]

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Pesticide Pollution in Recreational Lakes Documented

Friday, April 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2021) Recent research, published in Environmental Pollution in late 2020, examines levels and persistence of pesticide pollution in recreational lakes. The study finds: (1) concentrations of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid at levels exceeding ecotoxicity limits for aquatic invertebrates in a recreational lake that receives predominately urban runoff, and (2) that pesticide residues persist in the studied lakes throughout the growing season. Based on their findings, the scientists emphasized the importance of stricter regulation of insecticide compounds, and of better education about their impacts. Beyond Pesticides maintains that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for several reasons, not least of which is the extreme damage they cause to pollinators. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential ecosystem exposure to pesticide contamination in Midwestern recreational lakes, as well as the persistence of pesticide residues in those water bodies over the course of the growing season. Study authors hypothesized that watersheds with significant agricultural land uses would have higher concentrations of pesticides compared to largely urban and herbaceous watersheds. This research, out of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Kentucky, looked to evaluate the occurrence of neonicotinoid and organothiophosphate insecticides, and some fungicides, in three lakes with differing […]

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

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

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

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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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Suspension of Deadly Insecticide Use and Transition to Organic Needed to Save Hummingbirds

Monday, March 29th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2021) New data on the hazards of neonicotinoid insecticides calls for urgent regulatory action. The same pesticides that are linked to the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Widely known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating up to 80 times per second, hummingbirds display unique reactions to toxic pesticides. Research by scientists at the University of Toronto finds that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of this important and charismatic animal. Tell EPA and Congress to save the hummingbirds by suspending use of neonicotinoid insecticides and supporting the transition to organic practices. While hovering, a hummingbird consumes calories faster than any other bird or mammal. That’s why the finding that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid slows metabolism up to 25% is so disturbing. Systemic pesticides like imidacloprid and other neonics are transported throughout the plant, including nectar. Findings on the danger neonicotinoids pose to hummingbirds decades after the chemicals were first permitted to be used in the environment, and by independent scientists, not regulatory agencies, is indicative of a regulatory approach that fails […]

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Minnesota Deer Threatened by Ubiquitous Neonicotinoid Contamination, According to Study

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2021) Deer populations throughout the state of Minnesota are contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, according to preliminary results published earlier this month by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Although neonicotinoids are mostly known for contributing to the decline of pollinator populations, like most pesticides brought to market with approval of an inadequate U.S. regulatory review process, there are considerable uncertainties on its impacts after it is released into the environment. As scientists continue to discover novel harms from the use of these systemic insecticides, advocates say it becomes increasingly important to eliminate their use, and take preventive, precautionary measures to ensure similar patterns do not emerge in the future. MDNR launched its testing project on the state’s deer population in Fall 2019, after a study published by researchers at South Dakota State University found harmful impacts on white-tail deer. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid was found to reduce the body weight and metabolism of white tailed deer and increase the rate of birth defects and mortality in fawns. The state asked deer hunters to send them the spleens they harvested from wild deer. “We wanted to know if wild deer in natural settings are being exposed to neonics and […]

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Massachusetts Regulators Restrict Consumer Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

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

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Solitary Wild Bees Harmed by Neonicotinoid Pesticides Applied by Soil Drenching

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2021) Populations of solitary ground nesting bees decline after exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides, according to a study published in Scientific Reports late last month. In addition to ground-nesting bees, neonicotinoids have been shown to harm butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, aquatic species and mammals, including humans. As independent science continues to look beyond the effects of these systemic chemicals on honey and bumblebees, advocates maintain that it has become increasingly clear that the high hazards presented by neonicotinoids necessitate their complete elimination. “Farmers need to protect their crops from pests, but they also absolutely need to protect pollinators from the unintended effects of pesticides,” said study coauthor Susan Willis Chan, PhD. “The data on this particular [neonicotinoid] product are so clear that there’s really no question about what has to happen. We have to find something else.” Researchers focused their effort investigating how various systemic pesticides effect the hoary squash bee (Eucera pruinosa), a ground nesting bee found throughout North America that feeds entirely on pollen from cucurbits (including squash, cucumber, pumpkin, gourds, etc). The hoary squash bee provides essential pollinator services for these crops throughout the U.S. and Canada. Neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides are often applied […]

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Hummingbirds Harmed by Pesticides Killing Off Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2021) The same pesticides implicated in the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Well known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating over 50 times per second, hummingbirds display unique reactions to toxic pesticides. Research by scientists at the University of Toronto finds that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of this important and charismatic animal. Scientists began their experiment by trapping 23 wild ruby-throated hummingbirds and housing them in an animal care facility. One group of birds acted as a control and received no pesticide exposure, while the rest were assigned either low, middle, or high exposure (1 part per million [ppm], 2ppm, and 2.5ppm, respectively) to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists determined these amounts based upon probable nectar contamination in the real world. The pesticide was incorporated into the sugar solution provided to the birds over the course of three days. Within two hours of exposure to the pesticides, hummingbird metabolism dropped significantly. While the control group increased energy expenditure between 1% to 7%, the low exposed group displayed a 6% average decline, […]

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Herbicide Use in “Regenerative” No-Till Contaminates Waterbodies

Friday, February 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2021) Governments and policy makers are feeling a lot of pressure to mount effective responses to the climate crisis and to extraordinary levels of pollution in our environment. Tackling any one problem without precautionary attention to potential consequences of a solution — before it is enacted — is the opposite of the holistic understandings and strategies needed to solve environmental crises. Piecemeal approaches often generate unintended consequences. To wit: Vermont Public Radio (VPR) reports on revelations from a retired state scientist, Nat Shambaugh, who finds that farmers’ efforts to reduce agricultural runoff from fields into waterbodies, by planting cover crops, has resulted in significant increases in the use of herbicides to kill off those crops. So as one kind of pollution is reduced, another has become intensified. In Vermont and elsewhere, there has been much attention paid to nutrient pollution of waterbodies and waterways from agricultural runoff, largely because phosphorous and nitrates from fertilizers lead to contaminated drinking water, as well as to blooms of algae (some of which have their own toxic byproducts) and hypoxic dead zones in water bodies. The most notorious of these dead zones in North America are at the mouth of […]

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Proposed Bayer/Monsanto Settlement for Roundup Victims Offers Payments and Challenges

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2021) Multinational agrichemical corporation Bayer/Monsanto released a proposal last week to provide up to $200,000 per claimant in compensation to future victims of its Roundup weed killer, according to Reuters. The proposed settlement, agreed to with lawyers representing victims, continues Bayer/Monsanto’s attempts to limit the spiraling cost Roundup lawsuits, which have awarded individual victims millions of dollars in damages. The company appears to consider the proposal a good investment, as it has announced no plans to stop sale and production of its carcinogenic weed killer. However, under the current proposal, plaintiffs would not be forced to go through a compensation fund, and could seek additional punitive damages through a separate suit. As the attorney for Roundup victims, Elizabeth Casbraser, of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s really about options, and it’s really about choice. I think it’s a great option that offers predictability and transparency for people who don’t want to wait, who want to be compensated.” To stop the surge of cancer victims – comprising roughly 125,000 lawsuits – from further damaging the company financially, Bayer/Monsanto last year proposed a $10.9 billion settlement with current litigants. Unresolved future claims were […]

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Court Settlement Requires EPA to Review How Bee-Killing Pesticide Harms Endangered Species

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will evaluate the effect of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid on endangered species, after an agreement was reached between the agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Imidacloprid is one of the most commonly used insecticides in the world today and, like other neonicotinoids in its chemical class, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts on wildlife and their habitat. While the agreement to the assess effects on endangered species is important, advocates note that EPA should already have conducted this review, and further, that imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids should already be banned. NRDC’s successful lawsuit follows a separate legal challenge by the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and other environmental organizations which was settled in 2019. The judge in that case, focused on the neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, did not order EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (which is required when registering a pesticide in order to mitigate risks to endangered species). Instead, she directed the parties, including the plaintiffs, defendant EPA, and intervenor Bayer CropScience (the manufacturer of neonicotinoids), to move forward […]

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Ethanol Plant Processing Pesticide Coated Seeds Contaminates Nebraska Town

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2021) An ethanol processing plant located in the small village of Mead, Nebraska has been using seeds coated in bee-toxic chemicals as part of its production process, according to reporting published in The Guardian earlier this week. The plant, owned by a company called AltEn, may be the only plant in the U.S. producing biofuels with toxic seeds. There is a reason for that, and Mead residents are experiencing the adverse effects of EPA not regulating treated seeds. The prevalence of the use of seed coatings in chemical agriculture has increased over the last several decades, as the pesticide industry works to increase product sales by exploiting a loophole in federal pesticide law. Under FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), a clause known as the “treated article exemption” permits seeds to be coated with highly toxic pesticides without any requirement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess environmental or public health effects of their use. This allows hazardous pesticides (primarily insecticides and fungicides) to be used indiscriminately with no effective oversight. Research finds that over 150 million acres of farmland are planted with toxic seeds, including nearly four tons of bee-killing neonicotinoids […]

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Pesticides and Road Salt: A Toxic Mixture for Aquatic Communities

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2021) Insecticides and road salts adversely interact to alter aquatic ecosystems, reducing organism abundance and size, according to a study in the journal Environmental Pollution. Pesticide use is ubiquitous, and contamination in rivers and streams is historically commonplace, containing at least one or more different chemicals. Although road salts can prevent hazardous ice formation during the colder months, the study raises critical issues regarding the adverse interaction between road salts and pervasive environmental pollutants that threaten human, animal, and environmental health and safety. Authors of the study note, “Our results highlight the importance of multiple-stressor research under natural conditions. As human activities continue to imperil freshwater systems, it is vital to move beyond single-stressor experiments that exclude potentially interactive effects of chemical contaminants.” To assess the impact of road salts and insecticides on aquatic communities, researchers created a mesocosm (controlled outdoor experimental area) to examines the natural environment under controlled conditions. These communities include zooplankton, phytoplankton, periphyton, and leopard frog (Rana pipiens) tadpoles. Researchers performed a toxicity evaluation of six insecticides from three chemical classes (neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid; organophosphates: chlorpyrifos, malathion; pyrethroids: cypermethrin, permethrin). Additionally, researchers note the potentially interactive effects of these insecticides with three concentrations of […]

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Long-Term Roundup Exposure Found to Harm Keystone Wildlife Species

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2021) Long-term exposure to formulated Roundup and glyphosate results in significant harm to wildlife species that form the bottom of aquatic food chains, according to a study published in Microbiome by researchers at University of Birmingham, UK. The water flea Daphnia spp. often functions as a keystone species in lakes and ponds, and because of its ecological importance is frequently used as an indicator species in toxicity tests performed by pesticide regulators. Lead author Luisa Orsini, PhD, notes that most of this testing is flawed by limitations in its scope. “The problem is that much of the evidence is rooted in outdated toxicity tests which only look at the number of animals that die on exposure to extremely high concentrations of these chemicals,” Dr. Orsini said. “These tests also overlook the pathological effects arising from long-term exposure to low doses. What we’re proposing is that toxicity is measured by looking at what happens to the animal at a molecular and fitness level following long-term exposure, which encompasses the entire animal life cycle.” Dr. Orsini and her research team exposed populations of Daphnia magna to the maximum contaminant level (1 mg/L) of both the formulated product Roundup, […]

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Trump Administration Pushing Ahead with Two Toxic Pesticides during Transition

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2020) As the Trump administration winds down, it appears that it will continue to push through decisions that build on its formidable record of weakening environmental and public health protection. Ignoring documented threats to pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could finalize its interim approval for flonicamid, a bee-toxic pesticide. Separately, EPA may reapprove the disinfectant ethylene oxide (EtO), despite concerns over carcinogenicity. NYU Law is tracking these and other last-minute federal environmental decisions on its webpage Midnight Watch. EPA proposed an interim reregistration decision for flonicamid in September 2020. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been highly and publicly critical of the agency’s approach on this chemical. In a public comment, Becerra wrote that EPA did not collect data from required follow-up studies regarding the impact of flonicamid on pollinators. EPA’s own risk assessment states that a “full assessment of pollinator risk cannot be conducted until data are available.” AG Becerra stated, “The Trump Administration’s EPA is failing at one of its most basic jobs by plowing ahead with the registration process for flonicamid before receiving additional data on its impact to pollinators like bees.” He continued, “California relies on pollination from bees for agriculture, a driving force of our state’s economy. We cannot ignore the […]

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Flea Treatment Pesticides Found to Contaminate Waterways

Friday, November 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2020) Many pet owners likely do not consider what is actually in the flea treatments they administer to their animals. That should change, and recent research demonstrates why. Scientists sampling rivers in England found extreme contamination with two neurotoxic pesticides commonly used in flea products for dogs and cats: fipronil and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. In many instances, the concentrations in the waterways were far higher than accepted “safe” levels. Though these compounds are banned for agricultural uses in the United Kingdom (UK), risk assessment for them, as used on animals, has been minimal because of the assumption that the amounts used for veterinary treatments would mean far-less-significant environmental impact than might be expected with agricultural-scale use. This research out of the University of Sussex voids that assumption, and the researchers recommend “re-evaluation of the environmental risks posed by pet parasite products, and a reappraisal of the risk assessments that these products undergo prior to regulatory approval.”   Apart from being an active ingredient in flea treatments for pets, fipronil is used in insect baits, and in turf management and agriculture in the U.S. It is highly toxic to insects, including bees, to birds, and to aquatic invertebrates. […]

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Environmental Poisoning by Pesticides—Household Chemical Products and Medications Impact Domestic Pet Populations

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2020) A new report from the University of Milan and Poison Control Center (CVA) in Milan, Italy suggests that domestic animals experience frequent environmental poisoning by household toxicants. This research highlights the significance of investigating methods to classify diseases shared across multiple species to reduce the adverse effects of toxicant exposure. Researchers note, “These findings can provide useful information for the identification and monitoring of known and emerging toxicants, with positive repercussions on human, animal, and environmental health.” Veterinary toxicologists collaborated with the Poison Control Centre of Milan to analyze data related to animal poisoning episodes from January 2017 to March 2019. Evaluated data includes comprehensive information about animal species, potential poisoning agents, route of exposure, and clinical signs. Toxic chemicals (toxicants) considered include pesticides (insecticides, rodenticides, molluscicides, herbicides, and fungicides), drugs/medication (human and veterinary medicinal products, tobacco/nicotine, and drugs of abuse), household products (i.e., detergent, disinfectants), and other causative compounds. To analyze data results, researchers used IBM® SPSS® Statistics software and graphed findings using Prism by GraphPad. Researchers reported 442 animal poisoning episodes. Pesticides and medicine are the two major causes of domestic animal poisoning (34.1% and 33.5% of incidents, respectively). The remainder of animal poising incidents are from household […]

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Bees Lose Sleep Over Pesticides, Adding Stress and Increasing Risk of Death

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2020) Neonicotinoid insecticides inhibit honey bee sleep cycles, leading to stress and population declines, according to research from Vanderbilt University, published in Scientific Reports. Although there is already ample evidence of the dangers these systemic insecticides pose to pollinators – as evidenced by recent bans in the European Union and Canada – this new line of investigation add further detail to the ongoing crisis in the pollinator world. “I was thinking about honey bee disappearances and it clicked—if pesticides are killing bees indirectly but we don’t know exactly how, maybe it’s because they’re getting physically lost,” said study coauthor Michael Tackenberg, PhD.  Scientists conducted the experiment using honey bees located on Vanderbilt’s campus, which does not use neonicotinoid insecticides. After returning from pollen collection, forager bees were captured at their hive entrance and moved into monitoring tubes, which were subsequently transferred to the lab. In the lab, scientists were able to control light and dark cycles, and exposed bees to levels neonicotinoids they would likely experience if foraging on contaminated flowers. Foraging bees were first exposed to light/dark at 12/12 cycles, followed by four days of complete darkness, at which time some bees were provided neonics, […]

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Ecosystem-Killer Fipronil More Toxic Than Previously Thought, Found in Waterways Throughout the U.S.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2020) The insecticide fipronil is more toxic to aquatic insects than previously thought, often present in U.S. waterways, and can trigger trophic cascades that disrupt entire aquatic ecosystems, finds new research published by the U.S. Geological  Survey (USGS). The data have important implications for waterways throughout the country, but particularly in the Southeast U.S. where the chemical was found at hazardous levels in over half of sampled steams. Despite the high quality of the findings by a U.S. government agency, pesticide regulators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not adequately consider ecosystem-level effects when determining whether to register a pesticide. As a result, without public pressure on the agency, it is unlikely it will follow the science and take the action necessary to rein in use and safeguard the environment. Fipronil is a systemic pesticide that can travel through plant tissues and be expressed in its pollen, nectar, and dew droplets. Due to its systemic properties and similar toxicity profile, it is often targeted for restriction alongside the notorious neonicotinoid class of insecticides. Although fipronil is equally concerning, there is less data on the range of harm the chemical may cause. To better understand […]

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Combination of Pesticide Exposure, Limited Food Lead to Wild Bee Declines

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2020) The additive stress of pesticide exposure and food scarcity leads to significant declines in wild pollinator populations, according to research published by scientists at University of California, Davis. Although it is well known that insect and pollinators populations are at risk from multiple stressors related to industrial agriculture, comprehensive evaluations are a challenging scientific undertaking. “Just like humans, bees don’t face one single stress or threat,” said lead author Clara Stuligross, a PhD. candidate in ecology at UC Davis. “Understanding how multiple stressors interplay is really important, especially for bee populations in agricultural systems, where wild bees are commonly exposed to pesticides and food can be scarce.” To better understand the interplay between these two stressors, researchers designed a field study. Mason bee pollinators were provided cages to nest in, and each stressor was separated out. One set of bees were provided high levels of food availability, while another received scant floral resources. Certain cages within each food level were treated with the product Admire Pro, a Bayer Cropscience insecticide containing the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists found significant impacts on the factors that deal with mason bees’ reproductive success. This includes the likelihood that a female […]

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New Insecticides Escalate Indiscriminate Harm to All Organisms

Friday, October 9th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2020) A new study demonstrates that emerging “novel” insecticides can cause significant, sublethal harm to beneficial organisms at typical “real life” exposure levels. As neonicotinoid insecticides have come under fire for their terrible impacts on a broad variety of beneficial insects — including their major contributions to the decline of critical pollinators — more such “novel” pesticides are being brought to market in response. The study results, the co-authors say, “confirm that bans on neonicotinoid use will only protect beneficial insects if paired with significant changes to the agrochemical regulatory process. A failure to modify the regulatory process will result in a continued decline of beneficial insects and the ecosystem services on which global food production relies.” Beyond Pesticides would add that the study outcome points, yet again, to the grave recklessness of the pervasive “addiction” to chemical pesticides in agriculture. The solution to this chemical morass is known, doable, and scalable: a transition to organic, regenerative agricultural practices that get everyone off the “toxic treadmill.” Neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) are the class of chemical pesticides most commonly used worldwide, both on crops and as seed treatments. They are systemic, meaning they infiltrate all tissues of a […]

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