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Food: Fierce battle expected over Colorado GMO labeling ballot initiative

The best breakfast was this plate of biscuits and gravy at the pet-friendly Fountain Inn motel in Newcastle, Wyoming.

What’s in your food?

National consumer advocacy group joins fray

Staff Report

FRISCO — Coloradans this November will have a chance to decide whether they want to know if their food includes genetically manipulated foods via a ballot initiative (Proposition 105) that would require GMO labeling. Continue reading

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Environment: New research shows exactly how systemic neonicotinoid pesticides harm honey bees

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off.

Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides affect basic cell function in honey bees. bberwyn photo.

Toxic chemicals inhibit basic cellular functions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —The latest in a series of studies linking declines in bee populations with systemic pesticides shows that fipornil and imidacloprid affect basic cell functions. The findings help explain why the pesticides are toxic to bees.

Essentially, the toxic chemicals inhibit mitochondrial bioenergetics, resulting in depleted cell energy. Honeybee flight muscles are strongly dependent on high levels of oxygen consumption and energy metabolism. Continue reading

EPA to study pesticide impacts to endangered species

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How do pesticides affect wildlife? We’ll know more after a court-ordered environmental study.

Legal settlement requires agency to analyze effects of 5 common pesticides

Staff Report

FRISCO — Under legal pressure from conservation advocates, the EPA last week agreed to take a hard look at how five commonly used pesticides affect endangered animals across the U.S.

One of the pesticides is carbaryl, commonly used in massive quantities in Colorado to try and protect trees from bark beetles. The other pesticides to be reviewed are chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl. All have all been found to be toxic to wildlife and may pose a health risk to humans. Continue reading

Groundwater depletion threatens sustainability of Colorado River

Satellite data suggests more than 75 percent of water loss in drought-stricken basin is from groundwater pumping

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A new study quantifies groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin. Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Groundwater pumping is a huge factor in the Colorado River Basin water equation, California-based researchers said this week, announcing the results of satellite study that for the first time quantifies how groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states.

Along with surface diversions and pipelines, water users in the basin are also unsustainably depleting underground aquifers. For example, mountain resort towns in  Colorado tap underground water from headwaters streams like Tenmile Creek and the Blue River for municipal use.

The new study found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, the researchers concluded. Continue reading

Study: There’s huge potential for increased food production on existing land

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

Tweaking farm practices could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture

FRISCO — A systematic University of Minnesota study of global agricultural resources suggest that improving food systems in a few specific regions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint.

The report, published in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world’s crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. Continue reading

Environment: Bumblebees lose foraging skills after exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides

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A bumblebee foraging on fireweed. @bberwyn photo.

‘Exposure to this neonicotinoid pesticide seems to prevent bees from being able to learn these essential skills’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Bumblebees carrying tiny transmitters have helped show how long-term exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides prevents the insects from learning all the skills they need to forage for pollen.

The study was co-authored by University of Guelph scientist Nigel Raine and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology.
Continue reading

Environment: Honey bee mortality drops slightly

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A bumblebee searches for pollen on a wildflower in Frisco, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Colonies still dying off at an unsustainable rate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Honey bee colonies continues to die off at an alarming rate last year, with beekeepers reporting that they lost 23.2 percent of their colonies during the 2013-2014 winter. The preliminary numbers are from a survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The drop in mortality may be a small ray of hope in an otherwise bleak picture, showing mortality that is not economically sustainable for beekeepers. Of course it’s not just honey that’s at stake. Commercial beekeepers truck thousands of hives around the country to help pollinate many commercial food crops. Continue reading

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