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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 | Author:

JULY 8, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA —

National beekeeping organizations along with the National Honey Bee Advisory Board have come together in an attempt to protect the bee industry by an appeal against EPA for its approval of the pesticide Sulfoxaflor, shown to be “highly toxic” to honey bees, and other insect pollinators. Sulfoxaflor is a new chemistry, and the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the “neonicotinoid” class of pesticides, which some scientists across the globe have linked as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony collapse. The case is filed as the beekeeping industry across the country struggles for survival, and faces the costly effects of pesticides upon their businesses.

Bee. (NASA)

The pesticide Sulfoxaflor has been shown to be “highly toxic” to honey bees, and other insect pollinators.(NASA)

The National Pollinator Defense Fund, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas R. Smith have filed an appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting changes needed in the Sulfoxaflor label, the Biological Economic Assessment Division (BEAD) assessment of the value of pollinators and their established habits, and the EPA’s Risk Assessment Process. These changes would acknowledge pollinator’s critical role in the U.S. food supply, and ensure that decisions regarding new pesticides comply with applicable laws.

Sulfoxaflor was granted a full registration by EPA for most crops, many of which require pollinators. Many other registered crops are utilized by pollinators, including honey bees, as forage. Based on the approved registration, pollinators, especially honey bees, may potentially be exposed numerous times by labelled Sulfoxaflor applications as honey bees are moved across the country to pollinate crops, produce the nation’s supply of honey, and recuperate from the rigors of pollination.

The groups are being represented by the public interest law organization Earthjustice. The appeal process through the courts is the only mechanism open to challenge EPA’s decision; it is commonly used by commodity groups to rectify inadequate pesticide labeling.

The following are their statements:

Attorney Janette Brimmer of Earthjustice: “Our country is facing widespread bee colony collapse, and scientists are pointing to pesticides like Sulfoxaflar as the cause. The effects will be devastating to our nation’s food supply and also to the beekeeping industry, which is struggling because of toxic pesticides. This lawsuit against the EPA is attempt by the beekeepers to save their suffering industry. The EPA has failed them. And the EPA’s failure to adequately consider impacts to pollinators from these new pesticides is wreaking havoc on an important agricultural industry and gives short shrift to the requirements of the law.”

Jeff Anderson, beekeeper: “EPA’s approval of Sulfoxaflor with no enforceable label protections for bees will speed our industry’s demise. EPA is charged under FIFRA with protecting non-target beneficial insects, not just honeybees. EPA’s Sulfoxaflor registration press release says, ‘… the final label includes robust terms for protecting pollinators …’ This is a bold-faced lie! There is absolutely no mandatory language on the label that protects pollinators. Further, the label’s advisory language leads spray applicators to believe that notifying a beekeeper of a planned application, absolves them of their legal responsibility in FIFRA to not kill pollinators.”

Bret Adee, President of the Board of the National Pollinator Defense Fund: “The EPA is charged with preventing unreasonable risk to our livestock, our livelihoods, and most importantly, the nation’s food supply. This situation requires an immediate correction from the EPA to ensure the survival of commercial pollinators, native pollinators, and the plentiful supply of seed, fruits, vegetables, and nuts that pollinators make possible.”

Randy Verhoek, President of the Board of the American Honey Producers Association: “The bee industry has had to absorb an unreasonable amount of damage in the last decade. Projected losses for our industry this year alone are over $337 million. While not all of the losses are due solely to pesticides, there are strong correlations between pesticide misuse killing bees and impairing colony performance.”

George Hansen, President of the Board of the American Beekeeping Federation: “The honey bee industry is very concerned since the EPA has failed to adequately address our comments about realistic risk to pollinators posed by sulfoxaflor. The EPA continues to use flawed and outdated assessments of long term and sub-lethal damage to honey bees.”

Rick Smith, beekeeper and farmer: “The beekeeping industry has proactively engaged EPA to address concerns for many years. The industry is seriously concerned the comments it submitted during the Sulfoxaflor registration comment period were not adequately addressed before EPA granted full registration. The sun is now rising on a day where pollinators are no longer plentiful. They require protection 365 days a year in order to be abundant at the critical moment their pollination service is required by the plant. Applying pesticides in a manner which does not expose pollinators during the period a pesticide is acutely toxic, and, knowing sub-lethal and delayed effects, are the cornerstones in their protection. EPA’s assessment process has chosen not to use long established and accepted published information concerning pollinator foraging habits in the Environment Hazards Section of the Sulfoxaflor label.”

Sulfoxaflor Fact Sheet

  • Chemical name: Sulfoxaflor; cyanamide, N-[methyloxido[1-[6-(trifluoromethyl)-3-pyridinyl]ethyl] ?4 –sulfanylidene]
  • IRAC MoA Classification: Group 4C: nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists, sulfoxamines
  • Mode of Action: Sulfoxaflor is an insecticide that acts through a unique interaction with the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in insects. While Sulfoxaflor acts on the same receptor as the neonicotinoids, it is classified as its own subgroup (4C). It is an agonist of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) and exhibits excitatory responses including tremors, followed by paralysis and mortality in target insects. The structure of Sulfoxaflor makes it stable in the presence of monooxygenase enzyme that was shown to degrade a variety of neonicotinoids in IRAC Group 4A, resulting in a lack of cross-resistance demonstrated in laboratory experiments.
  • Registrant: DOW AgroSciences LLC
  • Proposed products: Sulfoxaflor is being registered as EPA Reg. 62719-631 (Sulfoxaflor Technical), 62719-625 (Transform WG), and EPA Reg. 62719-623 (Closer SC). Methods of application include aerial and ground broadcast, in addition to chemigation for potato.
  • Additional background information from the National Pollinator Defense Fund: Sulfoxaflor has the same constellation of properties as many other systemic insecticides that have been shown to cause acute and sub-lethal effects, including:
    1. High acute toxicity to bees.
    2. Sufficient water solubility to permit systemic uptake by the plant, and be expressed in pollen and nectar, as indicated by some of the studies the EPA evaluated.
    3. Sufficient persistence in the environment that would permit pollinator exposures from ingestion of nectar and pollen from treated plants.

The EPA is required by FIFRA to determine that a pesticide does not pose an unreasonable risk to the environment or to economic interests such as that of the bee industry.

The EPA’s testing did not adequately examine the impact of acute and sub-lethal poisoning of adult honey bees, brood, bee life span, in light the dynamics of the colony organism. The EPA’s reviewed research and analysis of bee foraging behavior and habits is being questioned based on long accepted publications; the Agency lacked the necessary data on how Sulfoxaflor remains systemically absorbed in the crop tissue, and how that may harm bees and bee colonies long term subjected to levels below the lethal toxicity level to adult bees; and the EPA failed entirely to look at how differing amounts of pesticides affect pollinators over time.

Bee kills since March 2013 as reported to the National Pollinator Defense Fund:

  • Florida: 1300 hives
  • Minnesota: 2312 hives
  • Utah: 630 hives
  • New York: 300 hives

Since 2006 an estimated 10 million bee hives at an approximate current value of $200 each have been lost and the total replacement cost of $2 billion dollars has been borne by the beekeepers alone (J. Frazier, unpublished).
(Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee health, USDA and EPA, report released May 2, 2013, page 1.)

“Annually for example in the United States between $20 billion and $30 billion, that’s B, billion with B dollars of our agricultural production is dependent on pollination.” Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
(Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health by USDA and EPA, May 2, 2013, WITS-USDA Office of Communication, page 3.)

“California agriculture reaps $937 million to $2.4 billion per year in economic value from wild, free-living bee species …” “About one-third of the value of California agriculture comes from pollinator-dependent crops, representing a net value of $11.7 billion per year… However, the new study estimated that wild pollinators residing in California’s natural habitats, chiefly rangelands, provide 35–39 percent, or more than one-third, of all pollination “services” to the state’s crops.”
(Wild Pollinators worth up to $2.4 billion to farmers, Ann Brody Guy, College of Natural Resources at Berkeley, 6-20-2011,http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/06/20/wild-pollinators-worth-billions-to-farmers)

“For fruit and nut crops, pollination can be a grower’s only real chance to increase yield. The extent of pollination dictates the maximum number of fruits. Post-pollination inputs, whether growth regulators, pesticides, water, or fertilizer, are actually designed to prevent losses and preserve quality rather than increase yield.”
(Bee Benefits to Agriculture, Kevin J. Hackett, ARS National Program Leader, 3-2004, Forum.)

“When honey bees interact with wild native bees, they are up to five times more efficient in pollinating sunflowers than when native bees are not present …” “ In fields where wild bees were rare, a single visit by a honey bee produced an average of three seeds. But as wild bee numbers increased, so did the number of seeds produced per honey bee visit, up to an average of 15 seeds per visit … by provoking honey bees to alter their behavior, wild bees were indirectly responsible for an additional 40 percent of the pollination. Honey bees on their own provided just 53% of the pollination.”
(Wild bees make honey bees better pollinators, Liese Greensfelder, UC Berkeley news release (Study author was Sarah Greenleaf, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences issue on Sept. 12, 2006 an EPA funded study), 8-28-2006,http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/08/28_honeybees.shtml.)

“The researchers estimate that up to 40 percent of some essential nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables could be lost without pollinators.”
(NCEAS working group produces study showing how vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables depend on pollinators, National Center for ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 6-22-2011, http://ia.ucsb.edu (Univ. of Calif .Santa Barbara news release))

CONTACT:
Michele Colopy, National Pollinator Defense Fund, (832) 727-9492
Liz Judge, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2007
Friday, February 19th, 2010 | Author:

What would Rachel Carson say to this story? The business publications are an echo-chamber of headlines reading “procedural issues” were what made spirotetramat illegal to sell, while other blogs and newspapers focus of the press release’s spin (harm to bees). The monopoly market publications would like to tell their readers/advertisers that it wasn’t banned because of proven harm to the pollinators and ecosystems (the same ecosystems that support the damned economy in the first place), no no… it was banned because the EPA and BayerCrop Science broke the laws, a.k.a. “procedures,” and got busted!  Why don’t they say “legal issues lead to ban of pesticide” or “secret law breaking discovered, leads to pesticide ban” or “NRDC and Xerces were watching while we tried to sell poison without EPA/public approval and they blew the whistle on behalf of science and public laws designed to protect the People from the Corporation”? (see evidence of eco-chamber) This story reveals the fraud and deceit that is Bayer CropScience and revolving door EPA cronies. It’s so easy to sell their poison and bio-warfare in China and Brazil, because those countries don’t have public oversight like the U.S.A. has with the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. It’s time to review and renew our appreciation and understanding of our EPA. This story is really about the Xerces Society and National Resource Defense Council forcing the EPA to follow its own rules and public protection “procedures.” Had it not been for them, the EPA and Bayer CropScience would have simply violated the law in secrecy and ineptitude, exactly what Bare CrapScience wants to see happen, IMHO.Important to note that well-known commercial beekeepers Dave Hackenberg (and Dave Mendes?) worked with Bayer CropScience to field test the effects of spirotetramat on honeybees in Florida.  Click image for PDF of report.Hackenberg-Bayer CropScience spirotetramat Field TestHere’s a nice footnote from the Judge Cote’s ruling:

 It is undisputed that the plaintiffs have standing to bring this case.  See Connecticut v. Am. Elec. Power Co., 582 F.3d 309, 339 (2d Cir. 2009) (“An association has standing to bring suit on behalf of its members when: (a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization’s purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation ofthe lawsuit.” (citation omitted)).

Judge Pulls Pesticide After Finding Impacts on Bees Inadequately Evaluated by EPA(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2010) – A pesticide that could be dangerously toxic to America’s honey bees must be pulled from store shelves as a result of a suit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Xerces Society. In an order issued in December, a federal court in New York invalidated EPA’s approval of the pesticide spirotetramat (manufactured by Bayer CropScience under the trade names Movento and Ultor) and ordered the agency to reevaluate the chemical in compliance with the law. The court’s order goes into effect on January 15, 2010, and makes future sales of Movento illegal in the United States.“This sends EPA and Bayer back to the drawing board to reconsider the potential harm to bees caused by this new pesticide,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Aaron Colangelo. “EPA admitted to approving the pesticide illegally, but argued that its violations of the law should have no consequences. The Court disagreed and ordered the pesticide to be taken off the market until it has been properly evaluated. Bayer should not be permitted to run what amounts to an uncontrolled experiment on bees across the country without full consideration of the consequences.”In June 2008, EPA approved Movento for nationwide use on hundreds of different crops, including apples, pears, peaches, oranges, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, almonds, and spinach. The approval process went forward without the advance notice and opportunity for public comment that is required by federal law and EPA’s own regulations. In addition, EPA failed to evaluate fully the potential damage to the nation’s already beleaguered bee populations or conduct the required analysis of the pesticide’s economic, environmental, and social costs.Beekeepers and scientists have expressed concern over Movento’s potential impact on beneficial insects such as honey bees. The pesticide impairs the insect’s ability to reproduce. EPA’s review of Bayer’s scientific studies found that trace residues of Movento brought back to the hive by adult bees could cause “significant mortality” and “massive perturbation” to young honeybees (larvae). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops grown in America. USDA also claims that one out of every three mouthfuls of food in the typical American diet has a connection to bee pollination. Yet bee colonies in the United States have seen significant declines in recent years due to a combination of stressors, almost certainly including insecticide exposure. “This case underscores the need for us to re-examine how we evaluate the impact of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment,” said Mr. Colangelo. “In approving Movento, EPA identified but ignored potentially serious harms to bees and other pollinators. We are in the midst of a pollinator crisis, with more than a third of our colonies disappearing in recent years. Given how important these creatures are to our food supply, we simply cannot look past these sorts of problems.”View the court decision here.Read Beyond Pesticides’ read factsheet: Pollinators and Pesticides: Escalating crisis demands action and Backyard Beekeeping: Providing pollinator habitat one yard at a time. See more information on threats to honey bees at NRDC.

Sunday, May 24th, 2009 | Author:

Pesticides indicted in bee deaths

Agriculture officials have renewed their scrutiny of the world’s best-selling pest-killer as they try to solve the mysterious collapse of the nation’s hives.

By Julia Scott
Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2009/05/18/bees_pesticides/

May 18, 2009 – Gene Brandi will always rue the summer of 2007. That’s when the California beekeeper rented half his honeybees, or 1,000 hives, to a watermelon farmer in the San Joaquin Valley at pollination time. The following winter, 50 percent of Brandi’s bees were dead.Graphic: Fate of Imidacloprid “They pretty much disappeared,” says Brandi, who’s been keeping bees for 35 years.Since the advent in 2006 of colony collapse disorder, the mysterious ailment that continues to decimate hives across the country, Brandi has grown accustomed to seeing up to 40 percent of his bees vanish each year, simply leave the hive in search of food and never come back. But this was different. Instead of losing bees from all his colonies, Brandi watched the ones that skipped watermelon duty continue to thrive.

Brandi discovered the watermelon farmer had irrigated his plants with imidacloprid, the world’s best-selling insecticide created by Bayer CropScience Inc., one of the world’s leading producers of pesticides and genetically modified vegetable seeds, with annual sales of $8.6 billion. Blended with water and applied to the soil, imidacloprid creates a moist mixture the bees likely drank from on a hot day.

Stories like Brandi’s have become so common that the National Honeybee Advisory Board, which represents the two biggest beekeeper associations in the U.S., recently asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the product. “We believe imidacloprid kills bees — specifically, that it causes bee colonies to collapse,” says Clint Walker, co-chairman of the board.

Beekeepers have singled out imidacloprid and its chemical cousin clothianidin, also produced by Bayer CropScience, as a cause of bee die-offs around the world for over a decade. More recently, the same products have been blamed by American beekeepers, who claim the product is a cause of colony collapse disorder, which has cost many commercial U.S. beekeepers at least a third of their bees since 2006, and threatens the reliability of the world’s food supply.

Scientists have started to turn their attention to both products, which are receiving new scrutiny in the U.S., due to a disclosure in December 2007 by Bayer CropScience itself. Bayer scientists found imidacloprid in the nectar and pollen of flowering trees and shrubs at concentrations high enough to kill a honeybee in minutes. The disclosure recently set in motion product reviews by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the EPA. The tests are scheduled to wrap up in 2014, though environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, are petitioning the EPA to speed up the work.

For over a decade, Bayer CropScience has been forced to defend the family of insecticides against calls for a ban by beekeepers and environmentalists. French beekeepers succeeded in having imidacloprid banned for use on several crops after a third of the country’s bees died following its use in 1999 — although the French bee population never quite rebounded, as Bayer is quick to point out. Germany banned the use of clothianidin and seven other insecticides in 2008 after tests implicated them in killing up to 60 percent of honeybees in southwest Germany.

Imidacloprid and clothianidin are chloronicotinoids, a synthetic compound that combines nicotine, a powerful toxin, with chlorine to attack an insect’s nervous system. The chemical is applied to the seed of a plant, added to soil, or sprayed on a crop and spreads to every corner of the plant’s tissue, killing the pests that feed on it.Pennsylvania beekeeper John Macdonald has been keeping bees for over 30 years and recently became convinced that imidacloprid is linked to colony collapse disorder. It’s the only explanation he can find for why his bees, whose hives border farmland that uses the pesticide, started dropping dead a few years ago.

“There’s the pernicious toxic effect — it does everything nicotine does to our nervous system,” says Macdonald. “There’s the pathological effect, the interference with basic functions. They get lost, they get disoriented. They fall to the ground. They get paralyzed and their wings stick out. I can’t think of anything in the environment that’s changed other than farming, and virtually every farmer is using treated seeds now.”

Bayer CropScience spokesman Jack Boyne says his company’s pesticides are not to blame. “We do a lot of research on our products and we feel like we have a very good body of evidence to suggest that pesticides, including insecticides, are not the cause of colony collapse disorder,” he says. “Pesticides have been around for a lot of years now and honeybee collapse has only been a factor for the last few years.” (Imidacloprid has been approved for use in the U.S. since 1994 and clothianidin has been used since 2003.)

Scientists continue to investigate the causes of colony collapse disorder. Leading theories suggest a combination of factors that include parasitic mites, disease, malnutrition and environmental contaminants like pesticides, insecticides and fungicides. The current EPA review will provide further insight into the role of pesticides, as it will uncover whether honeybees sickened by exposure to imidacloprid spread it around by bringing contaminated nectar and pollen back to the hive.

EPA critics suggest that the agency allowed economic considerations to take precedence over the well-being of honeybees when it approved imidacloprid for sale in the U.S. 15 years ago. “I think the EPA and USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] have been covering up for Bayer, and now they’re scrambling to do something about it,” says Neil Carman, a plant biologist who advises the Sierra Club on pesticides and other issues. “This review should have been done 10 years ago. It’s been found to be more persistent in the environment than was reported by Bayer.”

Imidacloprid was approved with knowledge that the product, marketed as Gaucho, Confidor, Admire and others, was lethal to honeybees under certain circumstances. Today the EPA’s own literature calls it “very highly toxic” to honeybees and other beneficial insects. Its workaround was to slap a label on the product, warning farmers not to spray it on a plant when bees were foraging in the neighborhood.

In its 2007 studies, Bayer applied standard doses of imidacloprid to test trees, including apple, lime and dogwood. Its scientists found imidacloprid in nectar at concentrations of up to 4,000 parts per billion, a dose high enough to kill several bees at once. (Honeybees can withstand a dose of up to 185 ppb, the standard amount it would take to kill 50 percent of a test population.) What caught the attention of California agricultural officials was that the test trees contained the same amount of deadly imidacloprid as the citrus and almond groves regularly sprayed by farmers, and pollinated by bees. (California’s almond industry has increased its use of imidacloprid by a factor of 300 in the past five years.) Agricultural officials were also surprised to learn that the imidacloprid can persist in the leaves and blossoms of a plant for more than a year.

The Bayer results don’t surprise University of California at Davis professor Eric Mussen, a well-known entomologist and one of the country’s leading experts on colony collapse disorder. Mussen has seen a variety of unpublished studies with similar results, including one at U.C. Riverside that found imidacloprid in the nectar of a eucalyptus tree bloom at concentrations of 550 ppb a full year after it was applied.

“From some of the data on the trees, it appears as though there are situations where honeybees can get into truly toxic doses of the material,” says Mussen, who avoids spraying imidacloprid on his own demonstration fields at U.C. Davis. “This the first time that we’ve had something you put in a tree that could stay there for a long time.”

But Mussen isn’t convinced imidacloprid is a primary cause of the honeybee die-off. He explains that some bees settle on fields of sunflowers and canola treated with the chemical and then “fly right through to next year.” So imidacloprid is not the only story. “Could it be part of the story?” he asks. “I’m sure. I think any of the pesticides the bees bring back to the beehive is hurting the bees.”

Mussen adds that ongoing research into chronic exposure to insecticides will be crucial. It’s likely, he says, that exposure to even low doses acts like a one-two punch: It can weaken the bees until a parasite or pathogen moves in to finish them off.

As the EPA begins its pesticide studies this year, skeptics wonder whether the agency can conduct an unbiased review. Back in 2003, they point out, the EPA reported that clothianidin was “highly toxic to honeybees on an acute contact basis,” and suggested that chronic exposure could lead to effects on the larvae and reproductive effects on the queen. Although the EPA asked Bayer for further studies of its effects on honeybees, it nevertheless authorized the chemical for market.

“If the EPA had sufficient concern about harm to bees that they would insist on other studies, it seemed unwise to approve it anyway and ask for research after the fact,” says Aaron Colangelo, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The EPA’s job is to make a decision about whether a chemical is safe or not.”

Colangelo envisions a similar scenario in coming years. The EPA has announced it will review clothianidin and other chemicals in the same family, but not until 2012. In the meantime, there’s nothing stopping the agency from approving the insecticides for use on new crops based on existing policies. In the end, Colangelo has little confidence the federal agency will bring a hammer down on the agribusiness giant. The EPA, he explains, often keeps its test results confidential for proprietary reasons at a company’s request. As a consequence, it’s unclear where gaps or discrepancies occur until a company makes a disclosure similar to Bayer’s.

“They’re not making decisions about whether the pesticide can be put on the market based on impacts to bees, no matter how much evidence of harm there is,” Colangelo says. “The EPA will just approve it anyway and put a warning label on the product.”

Halting the sale of pesticides, though, would be no mean task. Over 120 countries use imidacloprid under the Bayer label on more than 140 crop varieties, as well as on termites, flea collars and home garden landscaping. And the product’s patent expired a few years ago, paving the way for it to be sold as a generic insecticide by dozens of smaller corporations. In California alone, imidacloprid is the central ingredient in 247 separate products sold by 50 different companies.

In a statement, the EPA says that before banning a pesticide, it “must find that an ‘imminent hazard’ exists. The federal courts have ruled that to make this finding, EPA must conclude, among other things, that there is a substantial likelihood that imminent, serious harm will be experienced from use of the pesticide.” The EPA did not clarify what is meant by “imminent hazard” and why the death of honeybees does not qualify.

As Mussen points out, though, a few million dead honeybees may be the cost of doing business. “If they didn’t register products that were toxic to honeybees, there wouldn’t be a lot of products on the market that were available for pest control.”

All the more reason to start taking the world’s most ubiquitous insecticide off the market and invent a safer one, argues Walker, of the National Honeybee Advisory Board. “It’s on every golf course, it’s on every lawn. It’s not just an agricultural product. There’s really not one part of our lives it’s not touching.”

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Author:

From the National Resources Defense Council – Tell the EPA to protect honey bees from a toxic pesticide

Bee pollination is responsible for about one-third of the food we eat, helping to produce about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States every year. But honey bee populations are in serious decline, with devastating losses caused by factors such as colony collapse disorder, parasites and pesticide exposure.

Even though the EPA classifies the pesticide imidacloprid as highly toxic to honey bees, it nevertheless approved its use in 1994. France banned several uses of imidacloprid in 1999 over concerns about its effects on bees, but here in the United States imidacloprid is still used heavily on many crops pollinated by honey bees, including broccoli, blueberries, carrots, grapefruit, cucumbers and avocados.

Although the EPA is currently reviewing its approval of imidacloprid as required by the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, the agency’s work plan lacks many important details on how it will assess risks to bees. In addition, the EPA has put the review on an unreasonably slow timetable, with a final decision not expected until 2014. In the meantime, high-risk uses of imidacloprid will continue, threatening honey bees as well as other important pollinators.

The EPA is accepting public comments on this phase of the project through March 17, 2009.

What to do

Send a message, before the March 17th comment deadline, telling the EPA to protect honey bees and other pollinators from high-risk uses of imidacloprid by strengthening its plans for risk, toxicity and exposure assessments.

To do this go to: http://www.nrdconline.org/campaign/nrdcaction_030409

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.

Reference: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/news/2009/030401.php

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: http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=32496

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?”

READ REST: http://anarchyapiaries.org/hivetools/node/28