Tag Archives | Pesticides

‘The Bees Can’t Wait': White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. You can read more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it “misses the mark” by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths.

Under the strategy (pdf) put forth by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which falls under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government aims to:

  • Reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within 10 years, deemed “economically sustainable levels.”
  • Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies and protect its annual North American migration.
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Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Deaths Pose More Risks

It’s no secret to anyone who has seen Vanishing of the Bees or otherwise kept up with our coverage of Colony Collapse Disorder that most of the blame for the ill health of bees can be squarely blamed on pesticides, most particularly neonicotinoids. The latest findings in Europe back this up, as reported in the New York Times, but don’t expect AgriBusiness to accede to giving up their favorite killer chemicals without a fight:

An influential European scientific body said on Wednesday that a group of pesticides believed to contribute to mass deaths of honeybees is probably more damaging to ecosystems than previously thought and questioned whether the substances had a place in sustainable agriculture.

Bee keeping at Primrose Cottage, Little OAKLEY, Northants.

The finding could have repercussions on both sides of the Atlantic for the companies that produce the chemicals, which are known as neonicotinoids because of their chemical similarity to nicotine. Global sales of the chemicals reach into the billions of dollars.

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Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt.

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Eating Organic Food For One Week Eliminates 90% of Pesticides in Adults

Capay heirloom tomatoes at Slow Food NationThe organic food lobby should be all over this study. Who wants pesticides in their bodies after all? From MedicalXpress/The Conversation:

Eating an organic diet for a week can cause pesticide levels to drop by almost 90% in adults, research from RMIT University has found.

The study, led by Dr Liza Oates found particpants’ urinary dialkylphosphates (DAPs) measurements were 89% lower when they ate an organic diet for seven days compared to a conventional diet for the same amount of time. DAPs make up 70% to 80% of organophosphate pesticides.

Dr Oates said having the same people experience a large drop in organophosphate pesticide levels when consuming organic foods as opposed to conventional foods suggested most of these pesticides come from food consumption. However, she recognised it could come from other sources.

“The people in the organic phase (of the study) still did have some exposure, so there are obviously some alternate routes of exposure,” she said.

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Breaking the Set: Abby Calls Out CNN on CNN, Oscars & Drone Strikes, AIPAC 2014, Free Barrett Brown

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on the Media Craze over RT, the Dangers of Pesticides, Academy Award Distractions, AIPAC 2014, and a Small Victory for Barrett Brown.
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EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin remarks on the ongoing media craze surrounding her remarks on RT regarding the crisis in Ukraine and features a clip of her appearance on CNN where she took the opportunity to call out the corporate media. Abby then speaks with Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, about a recent lawsuit filed against the EPA in an effort to disclose the ingredients found in pesticides, discussing the dangers and negative effects associated with these chemical sprays. Abby then calls out the overwhelming media coverage of the Academy Awards, all the while avoiding coverage of US drone strikes that killed 10 people during the Oscars.… Read the rest

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Beekeepers And Honeybees Failing Due To GMO Crops

beesThere are various theories about colony collapse disorder (see Vanishing of the Bees), and a new study points the finder squarely at Monsanto and other purveyors of GMO crops, reports Inquisitr:

Beekeepers in Mexico are fearful that GMO crops are killing the honeybee. A new study published by Scientific Report stated that genetically modified seeds are “bad news” for Mexican beekeepers and specifically points to GMO soybeans as a threat. Mexico is the fourth largest producer of honey in the entire world.

The presence of GMO pollen in honey makes it extremely difficult for Mexican beekeepers to export their product to Europe, where GMO laws are stringent. If honey contaminated with genetically modified pollen is not outright rejected in Europe, it has to be sold for substantially reduced rates. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists have found that soybean crops were the source of GMO pollen in honey produced in the Yucatan.

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Is the USDA Really Dumb Enough To Approve Agent Orange Corn?

500px-Dow_Chemical_logo.svgJohn Robbins writes at Common Dreams:

The Obama administration announced last week that it expects to approve corn and soybeans that have been genetically engineered by Dow Chemical company to tolerate the toxic herbicide — 2,4-D. They are planning this approval despite the fact that use of this herbicide is associated with increased rates of deadly immune system cancers, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and many other serious kinds of illness and reproductive problems.

Weed ecologists are unanimous in warning that approval of these crops will lead to vast increases in the use of this poisonous chemical. Researchers at Penn State say that in soybeans alone, planting of crops resistant to 2,4-D would increase the amount of 2,4-D sprayed on American fields to 100 million pounds per year — four times the current level. The researchers predict a cascade of negative environmental impacts, and add that the increasing use of the herbicide would actually worsen the epidemic of superweeds it is intended to address, by causing weeds to become resistant to multiple herbicides.

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Pesticides Are Making Bees Smaller And Weaker

beesBut surely widespread pesticide usage wouldn’t have similar subtle effects on the growth and development of humans.Via the Guardian:

Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.

Scientists in the UK conducted laboratory tests which showed how a pyrethroid pesticide stunted the growth of worker bumblebee larvae, causing them to hatch out reduced in size.

Pyrethroid pesticides are commonly used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage. The study, the first to examine the pesticides’ impact across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees, tracked the growth of bee colonies over a four month period.

Currently a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides is in force because of their alleged harmful effect on bees. As a result, the use of other types of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase, say the researchers.

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Prime Time For The Plight Of The Honeybees

Celebrate National HoneyBee Awareness Day Aug. 17. Buy an organic #beethechange teeshirt & @HoneyColony will give part of the proceeds to #BeyondPesticides & #PesticideActionNetworkNorth.  Use the coupon code 'beyondpesticides' or 'PANNA'

Celebrate National HoneyBee Awareness Day Aug. 17. Buy an organic #beethechange teeshirt & @HoneyColony will give part of the proceeds to #BeyondPesticides & #PesticideActionNetworkNorth. Use the coupon code ‘beyondpesticides’ or ‘PANNA’

While discussing the fourth annual National Honeybee Day, on August. 17, a colleague from the Center for Food Safety informed me that the bees were going to be landing on the front cover of Time Magazine. Did this mean that the bees were officially mainstream now? Was the article going to tell the masses that systemic pesticides are responsible for colony collapse disorder, a theory that my documentary Vanishing of the Bees put forth four years earlier?

Luckily, I subscribe to Time. When I downloaded it onto my Kindle, I was greeted with an audio clip of buzzing bees. That was the most impressive part of the package aside from the cover art. The only new thing I discovered was the development of a genome repository—a.k.a a sperm bank for bees—by Washington State researchers.… Read the rest

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These Awful Food Practices Are Banned In Europe But Normal In The United States

toxic_atrazineJust great, ruin my lunch. Alternet has a sampling of some of the poisons prominent in the American food supply:

Atrazine. A “potent endocrine disruptor,” Syngenta’s popular corn herbicide has been linked to a range of reproductive problems at extremely low doses in both amphibians and humans, and it commonly leaches out of farm fields and into people’s drinking water. Europe banned it in 2013.

Arsenic in chicken, turkey, and pig feed. Arsenic is beloved of industrial-scale livestock producers because it makes animals grow faster and turns their meat a rosy pink. Arsenic-based compounds “were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan, and many other countries.”

Ractopomine and other pharmaceutical growth enhancers. Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of US hogs, ractopomine makes animals grow fast while also staying lean. Unfortunately, it does so by mimicking stress hormones, making animals miserable. Pigs treated with it suffer from ailments ranging from hyperactivity and trembling to broken limbs and the inability to walk.

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