Archive for the Category » Agribusiness «

Friday, March 06th, 2009 | Author:
Banned Products in Canada(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2009) The Ontario government is set to announce sweeping new regulations that will prohibit the use of 85 chemical substances, found in roughly 250 lawn and garden products, from use on neighborhood lawns. Once approved, products containing these chemicals would be barred from sale and use for cosmetic purposes.

On November 7, 2008, the Ontario government released a proposed new regulation containing the specifics of the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, passed last June. Then, Ontario joined Quebec in restricting the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides but environmental and public health advocates said then that the new law preempted local by-laws and actually weakens protections in some municipalities with stronger local protections. There are over 55 municipalities in Canada where the residential use, but not sale, of pesticides is banned. The prohibition of these 85 substances is the latest step in this Act. The proposal contains:

• List of pesticides (ingredients in pesticide products) to be banned for cosmetic use
• List of pesticide products to be banned for sale
• List of domestic pesticide products to be restricted for sale. Restricted sale products include those with cosmetic and non-cosmetic uses (i.e., a product that’s allowed to be used inside the house but not for exterior cosmetic use), and would not be available self-serve.

The 85 chemicals to be prohibited are listed under “Proposed Class 9 Pesticides” of the Act. Among the 85 pesticides banned for cosmetic use include commonly used lawn chemicals: 2,4-D (Later’s Weed-Stop Lawn Weedkiller), clopyralid, glyphosate (Roundup Lawn & Weed Control Concentrate), imidacloprid, permethrin (Later’s Multi-Purpose Yard & Garden Insect Control), pyrethrins (Raid Caterpillar & Gypsy Moth Killer), and triclopyr.

However, golf courses and sports fields remain exempt. The use of pesticides for public health safety (e.g. mosquito control) is also exempt. The proposed regulation would also allow for the use of new ‘notice’ signs to make the public aware when low risk alternatives to conventional pesticides are used by licensed exterminators, such as the use of corn gluten meal to suppress weed germination in lawns.

The prohibition, once passed, would likely take effect in mid-April. Stores would be forced to remove banned products from their shelves or inform customers that the use of others is restricted to certain purposes. Residents must then dispose of banned products through municipal hazardous waste collection, and use restricted products for only prescribed purposes. Errant users would first receive a warning, but fines would later be introduced.

By 2011, stores will be required to limit access to the pesticides, keeping them locked behind glass or cages and ensuring that customers are aware of limitations on use before taking them home.

In light on impeding legislation to restrict pesticide use, the Canadian division of Home Depot announced on April 22, 2008 that it will stop selling traditional pesticides in its stores across Canada by the end of 2008 and will increase its selection of environmentally friendly alternatives. Other garden supply and grocery stores have already stopped selling certain pesticides in Ontario.

This proposed prohibition would have the most impact on 2,4-D, the most popular and widely used lawn chemical. 2,4-D, which kills broad leaf weeds like dandelions, is an endocrine disruptor with predicted human health risks ranging from changes in estrogen and testosterone levels, thyroid problems, prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. A recent petition filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and supported by Beyond Pesticides calls for the cancellation of 2,4-D, its products and its tolerances in the U.S.

Other lawn chemicals like glyphosate (Round-up) and permethrin have also been linked to serious adverse chronic effects in humans. Imidacloprid, another pesticide growing in popularity, has been implicated in bee toxicity and the recent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) phenomena. The health effects of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides show that: 14 are probable or possible carcinogens, 15 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 24 with neurotoxicity, 22 with liver or kidney damage, and 34 are sensitizers and/or irritants.


Wednesday, March 04th, 2009 | Author:

World View Radio Show 03/02/2009

“Eighty percent of the world’s crop plants depend on pollination. The fewer bees pollinating fields, the lower the yield from every acre of food crops we eat. Without bees, our food will disappear. The mass disappearance of bees, first reported in 2006, is referred to as colony collapse disorder or (CCD).

Dr. Gabriela Chavarria is Science Center Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. She’s a leading expert on pollinators.

WBEZ Radio Chicago:

NRDC Forced to Sue to Get Public Records on Bee Mystery

Imidacloprid chemistry

EPA Buzz Kill: Is the Agency Hiding Colony Collapse Disorder Information?

NRDC Forced to Sue to Get Public Records on Bee Mystery

WASHINGTON, DC (August 18, 2008) – The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit today to uncover critical information that the US government is withholding about the risks posed by pesticides to honey bees. NRDC legal experts and a leading bee researcher are convinced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has evidence of connections between pesticides and the mysterious honey bee die-offs reported across the country. The phenomenon has come to be called “colony collapse disorder,” or CCD, and it is already proving to have disastrous consequences for American agriculture and the $15 billion worth of crops pollinated by bees every year.

EPA has failed to respond to NRDC’s Freedom of Information Act request for agency records concerning the toxicity of pesticides to bees, forcing the legal action.

“Recently approved pesticides have been implicated in massive bee die-offs and are the focus of increasing scientific scrutiny,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Aaron Colangelo. “EPA should be evaluating the risks to bees before approving new pesticides, but now refuses to tell the public what it knows. Pesticide restrictions might be at the heart of the solution to this growing crisis, so why hide the information they should be using to make those decisions?”


Wednesday, March 04th, 2009 | Author:

(Mainichi Japan) March 4, 2009

There are too few honeybees in Japan. While one immediately associates the busy yellow and black insects with honey, Japan’s honey production is not the area of agriculture most threatened by the decline in the bee population. Fruit and vegetable farmers also depend on honeybees to pollinate their plants, and the shortage of bees has gone so far as to create fears of a produce shortage, one that could threaten dinner tables across Japan.

“I didn’t think for a moment that we would have a shortage,” laments Osamu Mamuro, president of Mamuro Bee Farm in Yoshimi, Saitama Prefecture, as he stands in front of one of the firm’s beehives. Mamuro Bee Farm supplies honeybees for pollination to farmers.

In a normal year, from now through spring, Mamuro would be busy buying up honeybees from beekeepers in and outside the prefecture and distributing them to farms. This year, however, Mamuro has found it difficult to meet demand, and deliveries to customers will drop to less than half the usual amount.

“If this keeps up,” Mamuro says, “it’ll be the end of my business.”
CAPTION: “The honeybees just don’t gather,” laments Osamu Mamuro, president of Mamuro Bee Farm in Yoshimi, Saitama Prefecture. (Mainichi)

Honeybees are essential in the pollination of fruit and vegetable plants such as strawberries, watermelons, melons, eggplants, Japanese pears, cherries, blueberries and so on. Fruit and vegetable producers buy honeybees just for pollination purposes and release them in their fields and greenhouses.

The honeybee shortage is attributable to a sharp decrease in the number of those kept by beekeepers. According to Maruto Tokai Co., a major supplier of honeybees to agricultural cooperatives all across the country, the crisis has become severe enough to “threaten the destruction of the industry.”

A sudden drop in the honeybee population is not an experience limited to Japan. In fact, a similar shortage began in the United States three years ago. The autumn of 2006 to the spring of 2007 saw a particularly alarming decline in bee numbers, when around 30 percent of American bees suddenly disappeared, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The underlying cause of CCD is as yet unknown.

In Japan as well, in the past several years there have been instances of sudden mass die-offs and disappearances in honeybee colonies in Iwate Prefecture and Hokkaido.

The Japan Beekeeping Association (JBA), composed of 2,500 honeybee professionals, undertook a survey of its membership to determine the breadth of the honeybee population decline. The survey, which received responses from 36 percent of the association’s membership, was conducted by a three person team, including Kiyoshi Kimura, head researcher at the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, and Tatsuhiko Kadowaki, associate professor at Nagoya University, from August to December last year.

The survey revealed that one in four respondents had “experienced sudden losses of honeybees.” The scale of these losses varied, but “the number of beekeepers to lose large numbers of bees was more than we expected,” says Kimura.

Kimura visited the United States in December last year to observe the American situation.

“There have been small-scale honeybee losses for many years, but a massive collapse like they had in the U.S. is very unusual,” says Kimura, comparing the Japanese problem with the American CCD crisis of three years ago. “We must investigate the situation in Japan.”

Japan is home to many small-scale beekeeping operations. Unlike their American cousins, beekeepers in Japan do not often transport their honeybees long distances, meaning there is less stress that could affect the survival of the insects.

According to the JBA, Japan imports the vast majority of its honey, with only around 6 percent coming from domestic producers. As such, the honeybee population crisis “will not interfere with domestic honey production.”

However, the shortage of honeybees means real problems for fruit and vegetable farmers, who need the insects to get on with the vital work of pollination.

“From now on, it is possible that it will be increasingly difficult to secure honeybees for the purposes of pollinating eggplant, melon, watermelon and other produce plants,” says the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“We are desperately trying to collect enough honeybees,” says the Inba agricultural cooperative in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, as its members prepare for the watermelon pollination season in April. Uneasy voices can also be heard among strawberry, Japanese pear and melon farmers in nearby Tochigi Prefecture. The honeybee shortage means that these and other farmers may have to resort to pollinating their produce plants by hand.


Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:

Fox News gets some points for actually interviewing a beekeeper about the current pollinator crisis and dedicating five minutes to it, with a cute studio backdrop with props and all (you go, David Burns!)… My question to Fox News host, Neil Cavuto, “if the Corn (syrup) industry can get paid NOT to grow corn in U.S. through the subsidy programs for decades, and the obscene pork riders can go unchecked, unreported, unchallenged during the Republican Congressional bills for your War, etc, isn’t it obtuse to challenge the nation’s beekeepers in their attempt to find financial relief along with Wall Street and Detroit?!” Beekeepers literally put food on your table! Oil Industry/U.S. automakers flew in private jets to D.C. to get a giant taxpayer handout for actually failing to produce a product that meets modern needs (sustainability, fuel efficiency, etc.). $150 million is a drop in the bucket to protect the food supply.

Thank you, for creating the dialog, Fox News. However, you supported giant government for the War Industry for 8 years, plus. You can’t backpedal now when a truly important industry needs 100% bailout relief and subsidy. Cavuto, taxpayers should fund and are happy to fund beekeepers because of their role in farming and food. Your free market is a myth, get over it. Let the auto industry collapse and support the industries that we really need: farmers, pollinators and other sustainable enterprises.

The Obama Team should be setting benchmark goals of doubling or tripling the nation’s beekeeper population, which has been dwindling steadily ever since the 1950s’ suburban sprawl of monocultural, agri-chemical food production began spreading here. I’ve suggested in the past that the Veterans’ Administration deploy a program to train returning Vets to become beekeepers! Pay them, train them, redeploy them – in the peaceful fields of the united States. They will heal. They will rediscover the meaning and beauty of being human through nurturing this magical relationship with these insects, and our society needs to heal them to heal us. -DNR


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