Study tracks huge surge in use of bee-killing pesticides

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Treatment of corn and soybean seeds driving the increase

Staff Report

FRISCO — Penn State researchers say the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides spiked in the mid-2000s, not in response to a documented crop threat, but as a prophylactic treatment against uncertain insect attacks.

The growth is primarily due to the use of neonicotinoids in the treatment of corn and soybean seeds. In 2000,  less than 5 percent of soybean acres and less than 30 percent of corn acres were treated with an insecticide, but by 2011, at least a third of all soybean acres and at least 79 percent of all corn acres were planted with neonicotinoid-coated seed. Continue reading

EPA dials back use of dangerous systemic pesticides

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Pesticide-free sunflowers thrive on this organic farm in Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Agency says it won’t permit any new uses until pollinator safety studies are done

By Bob Berwyn

*More Summit Voice stories on pesticides and honey bees here

FRISCO — Under persistent pressure from the public and environmental activists, the EPA today started dialing back the use of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides that have been implicated in the decline and collapse of honeybee colonies around the world.

In a notice to entities using those pesticides, the EPA said it would not be accepting any new applications: “EPA believes that until the data on pollinator health have been received and appropriate risk assessments completed, it is unlikely to be in a position to determine that such uses would avoid “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” as required by federal environmental regulations, the agency wrote in its April 2 letter to registered users. Continue reading

Environment: What’s killing our honeybees?

A bumblebee

What’s killing our bees? bberwyn photo.

New study suggests a common pesticide is “safe” at normal exposure levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — While many recent reports have shown that systemic pesticides are decimating honeybee populations, new research suggests that imidacloprid, the world’s most common insecticide, does not significantly harm honey bee colonies at real-world dosage levels. Continue reading

New map IDs pesticide pollution hot spots

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Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.

Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world has a long way to go to come to grips with pesticide pollution say scientists who recently created a global map showing which areas are most susceptible.

Their modeling suggests that streams across about 40 percent of the planet’s surface are at risk from the application of insecticides, with the Mediterranean region, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia among the hotspots.

On average, farmers apply about 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides  annually, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface. Continue reading

Environment: Lawsuit highlights herbicide ‘death spiral’

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic Austrian corn field.

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic corn field.

Court challenge aimed at protecting whooping cranes, endangered bats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Hoping to forestall a DDT-type disaster, environmental groups and farmers last week moved to block the EPA’s approval of a new herbicide that could threaten endangered species.

In a federal court, the groups said the approval violates the Endangered Species Act because the EPA failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.  Continue reading

Will the EPA act on neonicotinoid pesticides?

Honeybees may get some relief from deadly pesticides. bberwyn photo.

Honeybees may get some relief from deadly pesticides.

Conservation advocates hopeful that agency will propose new restrictions

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the EPA may be close to cracking down on systemic neonicotinoid pesticides suspected of playing a key role in the decline of honeybees.

According to Friends of the Earth, a top EPA regulator discussed the agency’s stance on neonicotinoids at a Dec. 8 meeting of state pesticide regulators. The agency was charged with assessing the effects of the pesticides under June 2014 presidential memorandum.

At this point, there is no formal proposal for new pesticide restrictions, which would come in the form of a proposed rule subject to public input. Continue reading

Environment: More than 100 scientists call on President Obama to protect bees from pesticide threats

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

Scientists call on President Obama to directly address neonicotinoids pesticide impacts to bees. bberwyn photo.

‘Body of science’ shows harmful impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Environmental activists and scientists are convinced that neonicotinoid and other systemic pesticides are the main cause of rapidly declining bee populations across the U.S. and this week, they directly asked President Obama to address the pesticide threat.

More than 100 scientists from different fields signed on to a new letter calling on leaders of President Barack Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force to take action on pesticides to protect and promote healthy populations of bees and other pollinators.   Continue reading

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