Tag-Archive for » Imidacloprid «

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 | Author:

July 18, 2013|By JUDY BENSON, The Day, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Parting the broad, fan-like leaves of one of the 420 Gladiator pumpkin plants spreading over the sun-baked field, Kimberly Stoner found what she was looking for.

“Oh, yes, there’s a female flower,” said Stoner, associate scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, pointing out the distinguishing miniature fruit structure at the base of the flower, sterile until fertilized with male pollen. “Each plant will have male and female flowers, and usually the males emerge first. But pumpkins are absolutely dependent on bees for pollination.”

The quarter-acre field, planted in early June, is part of the research Stoner is leading to better understand the critical relationship between pumpkins and their squash-family kin and bees, without which there would no jack-o-lanterns, no pumpkin pie and no butternut squash at Thanksgiving.

Looking At Pesticides

A multifaceted, federally-funded project, the research is intended to trace whether pesticides commonly used on pumpkins and squash are showing up in bee pollen, to add to emerging science on the causes of bee colony collapse, which has been plaguing agriculture for the past half-dozen years. The project will also compare productivity from fields using different techniques to attract pollinators, and which types of wild bees share the fields with the managed honeybee hives.

Stoner stressed the importance of the wild bees in their research. There are two species of wild bees – a type of bumble bee and a squash bee – that show up on their own in squash fields, Stoner said. Through her research and other studies, she has determined that those wild bees do about 80 percent of the pollination in the squash fields.

“Practically nobody has looked at pathogens of squash bees, so it’s all new,” said Stoner. U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded research is part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative also supporting studies of cranberries in Massachusetts, blueberries in Maine and apples in New York state.

Earlier this month, Stoner and Amelia Tatarian, seasonal research associate, visited the experiment station’s research farm off Shelton Road in Griswold to size up the pumpkin plants’ growth and, based on the numbers of male and female flower buds, determine when the bees are likely to arrive.

“I’ll probably be back in a week,” said Stoner, who is keeping tabs on similar plots in Hamden and Windsor, as well as at 20 commercial farm fields around the state.

As Stoner and Tatarian checked each plant, tallying their findings, some 125,000 honey bees buzzed around hives in a shady spot several fields away. The hives had been brought to the farm a few days earlier by Mark Creighton, state apiary inspector. The bees are spending their days pollinating wildflowers around the farm until the pumpkin flowers start opening.

“Bees are very specific,” Creighton said, crouching beside one of the hives to watch a bee fly into the opening, its underside bright with white pollen, after getting clearance from the “guard bees” hovering outside the hive. “If they decide they’re going to pollinate squash, they’ll stay until it’s all done. That’s how they’ve evolved.”

Creighton said he is eager to spread the word about the important role of bees in agriculture, and the need to better understand how bee populations are being stressed.

“If we didn’t have honey bees as pollinators we wouldn’t have a lot of the crops that we take for granted, like strawberries and peaches, apples and pumpkins,” he said. “Most people don’t realize how much we rely on these little miracle workers.”

Last winter, he said, more than one-third of the state’s commercial bee population died, most likely from a convergence of stressors including invasive mites, infections and pesticide exposures, forcing orchard owners and other farmers to hire out-of-state beekeepers to truck their hives into the state for pollination season. Like tiny migrant workers with wings, honeybees are unique among other pollinators – including other insects, birds and bats – for their ability to be moved from place to place when people need them.

“This was the first time we’ve had to bring bees in from out of state to do some of the pollination,” Creighton said.

When the pumpkins were planted, an insecticide called Imidacloprid was applied to the soil around the roots. As the plants grow, they are absorbing the insecticide so that anything that eats the leaves and stems also ingests the chemical, and dies. Sold in hardware stores for home use under the brand name GrubEx, the insecticide has been on the market for about 20 years and is now one of the most widely used in the world, Stoner said. It is a particularly potent protection against highly destructive squash beetles.

As a farmer, I can see why they use it, because it’s really, really effective,” said Robert Durgy, the farm manager, standing amid the seed-catalogue perfect pumpkin plants, with none of the leaf holes or shriveling that insect infestations can cause.

Not So Benign

Imidacloprid, Stoner added, was first developed as an alternative to organophosphate pesticides. After concerns about toxic exposures of workers applying those chemicals directly on the plants, Imidacloprid looked like a benign antidote, a “systemic” pesticide that could safely be applied to the soil without harming humans.

But it turned out that bees, when they gather pollen and nectar from the squash flowers, also end up ingesting some of the insecticide, Stoner said. While it may not kill them immediately, Stoner said, there is now concern that it is having cumulative effects that, in combination with other stressors, are proving lethal. In the European Union, she noted, it has been banned for some specific uses.

Some facets of this project will rely on old-fashioned field work, with workers deployed into the fields throughout the season to track and record the types of bees visiting the flowers at various times, and the size, number and weight of the fruits.

“I’m going to tell the summer workers that they need to make up maps now showing where each of the plants are,” Stoner told Durgy. True to their reputation, Durgy said, the pumpkin plants would soon start spreading well beyond their orderly rows with long, intertwining vines that would make it hard to distinguish where one plant begins and the next one ends.

The pesticide research part of the project, however, will involve some more complex techniques. Pollen from the bees will have to be tested and analyzed in a lab for traces of pesticide. To collect the pollen, Creighton will attach a kind of gate on the front door of each bee hive. As the bees try to reenter, they will end up depositing half of the pollen they’ve gathered into a collection basket.

“I’m going to put a pollen trap on the first hive in the next day or so,” Creighton told Stoner.

A Courant staff report was added to this story.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 | Author:

PCAs and growers take notes on the stops of the tour of the Bayer CropScience research farm recently.

Bayer CropScience will soon be introducing a new class of chemistry that will be an alternative to imidacloprid, the company’s embattled systemic insecticide that has been implicated in honey bee deaths.

The new active ingredient is flupyradifurone. It is a systemic from the butenolide chemical class and is active on sucking insect pests.

It will be marketed by Bayer under the trade name Sivanto, according to Phil McNally, a Bayer rep who talked about the new product at Bayer’s recent field day at its research farm just east of Fresno.

About 100 PCAs and growers heard McNally called it a “bee friendly product with no bloom (application) restrictions.” He says Bayer expects to have the reduced risk product federally registered in 2015.

Biological efficacy studies conducted within the U.S. since 2007 by internal and external scientists on an array of annual and perennial crops have shown high levels of efficacy against various species of aphids, leafhoppers, psyllids, scales, thrips and whiteflies.

A unique property of Sivanto is its strong and rapid feeding cessation effect from both soil and foliar applications. It is active via ingestion and contact. It is an adult knockdown product that controls nymph and egg stages.

It is both systemic for root uptake and translaminer from foliar applications. It has minimal impact on beneficials.

Submitted for global joint review in 2012, registration is being pursued on many annual and perennial crops.

The proposed label includes a four hour re-entry interval.

It is expected to be a major part of the Bayer CropScience insecticide package as an alternative to imidaclolprid.

Imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world. Although it is now off patent, the primary manufacturer is Bayer CropScience. It is sold under many names.

Recent research suggests that widespread agricultural use of imidacloprid and other pesticides may be a factor in honey bee  deaths called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  The decline of honey bee colonies in Europe and North America have been observed since 2006. As a result, several countries have restricted use of imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids. Some European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have even banned neonicotinoids, though pesticide companies vehemently defend their ecological safety and say concerns are based on inconclusive and premature science.

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:
So interesting to see how the conversation about CCD has evolved in the press. This article is a keeper, full of instructive detail, copied here for posterity.- DNR

Mysterious Bee Deaths Strike Central Valley

http://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/vvarc/2007/february212007.htm

By Steve Pastis

February 21, 2007 – San Joaquin Valley – A mysterious ailment is killing off bees in Tulare County and across the country. Given the name “Colony Collapse Disorder,” the new disease has wiped out bee colonies in 21 states so far.

The loss of bees in the Central Valley is expected to have a negative impact on crops such as avocados, cherries, plums, alfalfa seeds, pomegranates and kiwi. The bee shortage may hit almonds the hardest during the time of year when half of the country’s commercial bees are brought into the state to help launch what should become a $1.4 billion dollar harvest. Even more bees will be needed over the next few years as California almond production is expected to expand to more than 750,000 acres by the year 2010.

“I’ve lost over 2,000 bees over the last two months,” said David Bradshaw, owner of Bradshaw Honey Farms in Visalia. He had about 4,200 bees but is now down to less than 2,000.

Recently, he was visited by research teams from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Montana. The teams took samples to study and dissect more…

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 13th, 2009 | Author:

UPDATE 3/14/09 – The Greenwich Post newspaper reported in 2008 that McNitt’s honey testing “found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid“… Jim McNitt commented on my first post, however, that Eliza just won again this year two top Life Science prizes at the 2009 Connecticut Science Fair for her continued research on pesticides in honey (read his blog). Most notably, he writes that she in fact did find imidacloprid in her testing. “This year, Eliza used HPLC to examine pollen, beeswax,Eliza McNitt 2009 Photo by Frank LaBanca beebread and dead bees gathered from the Arboretum hive for traces of imidacloprid… Her work confirmed the presence of high levels of imidacloprid both in the hive and on the extremities of the Arboretum honey bees.” So, what’s the story behind the story, here? Why did the newspaper report the contrary? Did last year’s research methods differ from this year’s? Was there a sudden spike in imidacloprid usage near the Arboretum study location in the past year? Stamford, CT is a place of wealth and immaculate lawns. It would be nice to see a survey of the gardeners and home owners about what products they put on the lawns. Do they use any of those recently banned in Canada? Would the local garden supply shops provide stats on sales of certain products for local research purposes? Mr. McNitt says’s he’ll send me the link to her research PDF for us to post here. I can’t wait. Thanks for keeping us posted. [his response and link is here : McNitt 2008 Research.pdf] (Photo by Frank LaBanca)

  • What are the possibilities of other high school students around the country sending samples to Greenwich High School Paperfor testing?
  • Could there be a continuing research program set up there?
  • What are the costs to the school for conducting the tests?
  • Is it complicated to test using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) technology?

Looks to me like future students at Greenwich High could expand on McNitt’s research and follow in her award-winning footsteps. They have a great research location, ability to survey properties within a 4 mile radius of the hives and perhaps even discover and map the places where the bees are picking up imidacloprid, down to the product name. The next test in the Greenwich High School CCD Research Program should be of the water supply, an often overlooked source of contamination – bees drink water and use it to cool the hive! Science teacher Andy Bramante may need some TA’s, too. ;) – DNR

Jim McNitt Website Screenshot

http://www.jimmcnitt.com/Site2/Blog/Entries/2009/3/13_And_the_winner_of_the_2009_Connecticut_Science_Fair_Is…..html

———————

3/13/09 – Just yesterday I posted some 2008 news about this young woman, and today I see she’s more scientist researcher than film maker! If there’s any high school that would have its own advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology, it would be Greenwich High School. Lucky girl. I’m waiting for Eliza to send me the link to her research (use comment)… Congratulations! You deserve a full ride to college. (Stick with the hard sciences ;) ) -DNR

Mar 12, 2008
Greenwich High student wins science competition

http://www.acorn-online.com

Eliza McNitt, a Greenwich High School junior, captured top honors at the 45th Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for an original research project that traced the migration of pesticides through the production of southwestern Connecticut honey.

In addition to a $1,000 scholarship and letter of recognition from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, McNitt will represent Connecticut at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Orlando, FL, in May. The symposium program is sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force in an effort to encourage original scientific research at the high school level. Courtney Fogwell, a GHS senior, was selected as a National Symposium alternate for her project analyzing the environmental impact of artificial-turf playing fields.

Eliza and Courtney were among 13 state finalists who made oral presentations before an audience of more than 300 fellow science students, parents, teachers, and jurors at the University of Connecticut in Storrs on March 10. Both students were mentored by GHS science teacher Andrew Bramante.

“While extensive work has been done on the presence of residual insecticides on fruits and vegetables, there has been little significant scientific research on residual pesticides in honey,” Mr. Bramante said in a release. “Eliza came to me with her project on the first day of class. I almost fell off my stool when I heard it.”

Eliza says that the topic was indirectly inspired by her grandfather, a chemical engineer, who is fastidious about washing and peeling fresh produce.

“If there are insecticides on an apple,” Eliza said. “It made me wonder if they could also be present in honey.”

She found an ideal controlled research environment at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Bartlett Arboretum Mapwhich maintains an apiary in the middle of its 30 acre property. James Kaechele, arboretum education director and beekeeping specialist Andrew Cote´ made honey samples available along with detailed records of pesticide applications.

Eliza tested the arboretum honey using advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology that had been donated to the GHS science program.

“I was incredibly fortunate to able to perform my own analysis,” she says. “GHS has equipment that you can’t even find in most colleges.”

Her tests revealed the presence of a component of the pesticide Neem Oil — which is widely used in organic farming. Neem Oil is made from the fruits and seeds of Neem, an evergreen tree common in India, and is not thought to be harmful to mammals, birds or bees.

The fact that Eliza found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid may have implications in the search for a cause of the mysterious syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in which worker bees abruptly disappear. CCD is considered a serious threat to the pollination of food crops in the United States and Europe.

“Imidacloprid is under investigation as a contributing factor in CCD,” she said. “The fact that it is not present in the Arboretum honey could suggest that it is killing or disorienting worker bees so they cannot return to the hive.”

The topic will be something she’ll tackle in her next GHS science project. [see McNitt's followup here]

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

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

First UK supermarket chain – and Britain’s biggest farmer – to prohibit chemicals implicated in the death of over one-third of British bees

Alison Benjamin

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 January 2009 11.40 GMT

The Co-op today became the first UK supermarket to ban the use of a group of pesticides implicated in billions of honeybee deaths worldwide.

It is prohibiting suppliers of its own-brand fresh produce from using eight pesticides that have been connected to honeybee colony collapse disorder and are already restricted in some parts of Europe.

The Co-op said it will eliminate the usage of the neonicotinoid family of chemicals where possible and until they are shown to be safe. The Co-op has over 70,000 acres of land under cultivation in England and Scotland, making it the largest farmer in the UK. Since 2001, it has already prohibited the use of 98 pesticides under its pesticide policy.

Simon Press, senior technical manager at the Co-op group said: “We believe that the recent losses in bee populations need definitive action, and as a result are temporarily prohibiting the eight neonicotinoid pesticides until we have evidence that refutes their involvement in the decline.”

Laboratory tests suggest that one of the banned chemicals, imidacloprid, can impede honeybees’ sophisticated communication and navigation systems. It has been banned in France for a decade as a seed dressing on sunflowers. Italy, Slovenia and Germany banned neonicotinoids last year after the loss of millions of honeybees. And the European Parliament voted earlier this month for tougher controls on bee-toxic chemicals.

Read rest: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/28/bees-coop-pesticide

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

By: www.BeeCulture.com

Researchers in Connecticut, during the 2007 growing season monitored pesticides found in pollen collected in pollen traps. Colonies studied were under normal conditions and were not collapsing or in any other way ill. No colonies died during the experiment.

The researchers collected the pollen twice a week from four locations in Connecticut during the season. 102 Samples were collected and analyzed using HPLC/MS. (High Performance Liquid Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry)

Results: 37 pesticides were detected. 15 insecticide/ acaracides, 11 fungicides, 10 herbicides and 1 plant growth regulator. All samples had at least one pesticide detected.

The most commonly detected pesticide was coumaphos. Carbaryl and phosmet, both highly toxic to bees were the most commonly detected field pesticides. Imidacloprid was detected 30 times, mostly at low levels. The pesticides found at the highest levels were both fungicides: myclobutanil and boscalid.

- www.BeeCulture.com