Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thurston County is the first county government in Washington state to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on the property that it manages and owns.

Commissioners ban insecticide from Thurston County properties

Staff writer for The Olympian December 22, 2014 

 Last week, the Thurston County Commissioners approved a change in its policy; it will now ban the use of nenonictinoid insecticides on its managed lands, including parks and trails.
Thurston County is the first county government in Washington state to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on the property that it manages and owns.
The chemical is highly toxic to honey bees and bumblebees, and is found in a variety of gardening products designed to keep insects away from plants.
The Board of County Commissioner’s decision came as good news for beekeepers who believe the chemical has contributed to the loss of bee populations and the collapse of bee colonies.
“I’m just elated,” said Rochester resident Mark Emrich, president of the Washington State Beekeepers Association. “I think it’s incredibly gutsy.”
The County Commissioners voted 3-0 last week to amend its pest and vegetation management policy and prohibit the use of neonicotinoids on its lands. That includes 77 acres of county facilities, 2,646 acres of parks, 47.1 miles of trails and one mile of right-of-way landscape.
“The goal of it is to send a big message to the public,” Thurston County commissioner Sandra Romero told The Olympian on Monday. “… We feel that it is a big enough issue and there could be a crisis if we have more bee colony collapses, more sick hummingbirds, more loss of our bats. All of the pollinators are in jeopardy.”
Neonicotinoid has been banned for municipal use in several cities, including Spokane and Seattle. Last month, the Olympia City Council passed a resolution stating the city would continue its policy to not purchase or use neonicotinoid pesticides for any purpose on its land, and that it would support “a national moratorium on the sale and use” of the products. In addition, the European Union instituted a two-year moratorium on products containing what many refer to as “neonics.”
Beekeeper Emrich said federal government agencies have been reluctant to take a stand, so the push for change is coming from local communities. He said some communities, including Long Island in New York, have banned the insecticide over concerns that it could pollute their water systems.
“I really think that municipalities are really starting to take on the role of it,” said Emrich, of Rochester . “If the EPA and the USDA aren’t going to take this on, we’re going to protect our own backyard.”
Romero said county officials don’t plan to ban the sale of neonicotinoids, which can be found in numerous lawn and gardening products. Some plants arrive from nurseries already containing it, Emrich said.
Romero said the ban for county properties is more about setting an example.
“We really think that the public, when they know and they have the information, will make the right choice,” she said. “We want to be known as a pollinator-friendly community.”
The county also is working with the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater, as well as LOTT, the Port of Olympia and the Nisqually Land Trust on a memorandum of understanding that would essentially extend the ban to their managed lands.
None of those groups use neonics, but the agreement would formalize that practice and urge participants to use “bee friendly” landscaping where feasible, Romero said.
Olympia naturalist Glen Buschmann of Bees, Birds & Butterflies said he supports the county’s ban of neonics on its properties.
He said he worries about the impact the chemicals may have on native bees, which can’t be tracked as well as honeybees.
Buschmann said insecticide companies have mounted a fight to keep their products on retail shelves.
“There’s some good reason for some push back (from counties and cities),” Buschmann said. “Way back in the ‘60s and ‘70s with DDT, manufacturers were saying, ‘There’s no problem. They’re safe.’ ”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

Friday, December 19, 2014

Canadian beekeepers file lawsuit agianst Bayer, Syngenta over bee-killing neonicotinoids

(NaturalNews)

 Canadian beekeepers have filed a class-action lawsuit against two pesticide manufacturers, seeking $400 million in damages for the devastating effects of the neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to the destruction of honeybee colonies.

"The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers," said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with Siskinds LLP, the law firm that is handling the case.

The lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court on September 2 by two of the largest honey producers in Ontario, Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey. The next day, the Ontario Beekeepers Association publicly announced the lawsuit and invited other beekeepers to join in. By September 4, more than 30 beekeepers had already signed on.

Bee colonies devastated

The neonicotinoids, which include imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are systemic pesticides applied to seeds prior to planting. The neurotoxic chemicals then coats the plant, making the entire thing poisonous. This means that birds or insects that visit the plant for nectar or pollen are also poisoned.

"The plants become poison not only for the insects that farmers are targeting, but also for beneficial insects like bees," said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Numerous studies have shown that bees exposed to neonicotinoids experience trouble navigating, are more likely to fail to return to their hives, and have smaller colonies than non-exposed bees. In a 2013 study by Health Canada, 70 percent of all dead bees tested positive for exposure to neonicotinoids.

In response to these concerns, the European Commission has restricted the use of neonicotinoids for two years, and Ontario has announced plans to regulate them more tightly.

In the lawsuit, the beekeepers accuse Bayer CropScience Inc., Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies of negligence in the design, manufacture, sale and distribution of the pesticides. The lawsuit claims that the negligent behavior of the companies has directly resulted in damage or death to bee colonies and breeding stock; contamination of beeswax, honeycomb and beehives; decreases in honey production; lost profit; and increased labor and supply costs. The plaintiffs are seeking $400 million in damages.

A global crisis

Over the past 20 years, neonicotinoids have become among the most popular of all pesticide varieties. In recent years, researchers have raised concerns that they may be a primary factor behind colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon marked by honeybees abandoning their hives and dying during the winter. Because honeybees pollinate a third of the entire global food supply -- 130 different crops, valued at $15 billion per year -- CCD has caused alarm at high levels of government and industry.

A pair of studies conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Worcester County Beekeepers Association decisively linked neonicotinoids to CCD. The researchers found that exposing bees to neonicotinoids induced CCD in the majority of beehives over the winter, while non-exposed bees did not experience CCD. The researchers suggested that, in part, neonicotinoids may cause CCD by making bees more vulnerable to cold.

But it's not just honeybees that are affected by neonicotinoid poisoning; because the pesticides are systemic, any animal that even visits a treated crop may be affected. According to a comprehensive international review published in June 2014, neonicotinoids are severely damaging ecological integrity worldwide, on a scale comparable to the damage done by DDT prior to the 1970s.

Shockingly, there is no evidence that neonicotinoids are even particularly beneficial for farmers.

"We have been using these things for 20 years and there's not a single study that shows they increase yield," said researcher Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, England. "If they don't benefit yield we should stop using them."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.cbc.ca

http://www.ontariobee.com [PDF]

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Monsanto’s New ‘Herbicide-Resistant’ GMO Crop Slammed by Food Experts ~ Natural Society


Christina Sarich
by Christina Sarich Originally  posted on naturalsociety.com
Posted on December 17, 2014
With all the talk of Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate, it is likely that you haven’t heard of dicamba. This is another weapon in the Big Ag giant’s chemical arsenal that is being called yet another indiscriminate chemical that “will take agriculture back to the dark days of heavy, hazardous pesticide use that will seriously endanger human health and the environment.”
Monsanto is sowing GMO cotton and soybean that were created specifically to resist the dicamba herbicide. This herbicide is the subject of great scrutiny following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s final  Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released last week.
Should both the EPA and USDA allow the as-yet-to-be-approved dicamba herbicide, the Center for Food Safety says it will pursue every legal option to make sure it is not used on US crops.
Dicamba is essentially Monsanto’s ‘solution’ to the glyphosate resistant crops that have already taken over US farmlands. Instead of yielding more food, glyphosate has caused an epidemic of super weeds that are so invasive that farmers in the Midwest cornbelt are dumbfounded. More than 60 million acres of US crops are now completely choked by glyphosate-driven super weeds.

( Glyphosate is Round-up, Razor Pro and other named products)
ButtsBees edit 

A Little About Dicamba

Dicamba was first introduced in 1967 to be used as a broadleaf herbicide. Even then it was linked to higher cancer rates in farmers who used it, as well as birth defects in their male offspring. The herbicide is especially notable for its ability to drift into neighboring farms, thereby damaging crops.
Additionally, dicamba poses a threat to flowering plants and their pollinators. If dicamba was added to the already devastated crops throughout the cornbelt, it could dramatically escalate both environmental damage while negatively impacting human health greatly.
Strangely, though up for review by the FDA, the USDA itself and many scientists suggest that the massively increased use of dicamba will rapidly generate the still more intractable weeds resistant to both dicamba and glyphosate – all this for some more GMO frankenfood.
Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst says:
“Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant crops are the latest fruits of a pesticide industry strategy to increase sales of their toxic herbicides. Genetic engineering is making American agriculture more chemical-dependent and less sustainable than ever before.”
The USDA also just approved GE 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans from Dow Chemical Company, and approvals of similar herbicide-resistant crops developed by other pesticide companies are to come.
They aren’t making food, dear friends, they are making a poisoned world.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yet Another Study ! LOW RATES OF INSECTICIDE ARE ENOUGH TO DISORIENT BEES

As beekeepers we must see the whole insect world as our own. We can no longer blindly keep our precious honeybee as a separate part of this whole.

 

LOW RATES OF INSECTICIDE ARE ENOUGH TO DISORIENT BEES

Two new studies published simultaneously in the highly respected American journal Science, March 29, 2012, highlight the role of two neonicotinoid insecticides most commonly used to explain the decline of bees.
Assessment procedures and authorization of pesticides are to be reviewed urgently.
The effect of some pesticides on pollinators is accurate.
Two studies published March 29, 2012 in the journal Science shows how two insecticides of the neonicotinoid family – introduced in the early 1990s and now has become the most commonly used pesticides on crops worldwide – affect the development and the behavior of honey bees and wild species of bumblebee pollinators. All – and this is a great first – in field conditions and not in the laboratory, as was the case until now.
The first study, led by Penelope Whitehorn and Dave Goulson of the University of Stirling in the UK could explain, at least in part, the decline of some of the 20,000 species of wild pollinators.
« Some bumblebee species have declined dramatically in number. In North America, for example, some species that were widespread have more or less disappeared from the continent. In the UK, three species are now extinct », says Dave Goulson. The researchers exposed colonies of Bombus terrestris bumblebees to low levels of a neonicotinoid called Imidacloprid, used to make the famous Gaucho. The doses used were comparable to those, which are exposed to insects foraging crops treated with these pesticides.
The researchers placed the colonies in an enclosed area where the bees were feeding for six weeks under natural conditions. At the beginning and the end of the experiment, the researchers weighed each bumblebee nests that included animals, wax, honey, larvae and pollen to determine how much the colony had increased. It turns out that the colonies exposed to imidacloprid took less weight compared to the control colonies, suggesting that they were fed less. At the end of the experiment, they were 8 to 12% smaller on average than the control colonies. They had also produced 85% less queens!
This is particularly important because the queen production is directly linked to the establishment of new nests after the winter dieback. Hence a significant reduction in their ability to regenerate, which could explain the observed decline found for a number of years.
« Bumblebees pollinate many crops and wildflowers. The use of neonicotinoids in crops is clearly a threat to their health and needs to be urgently reviewed », says Dave Goulson.
In the second article in Science, a French team found that the exposure to another neonicotinoid disrupted the ability of bees to find their hive, which caused the death of many of them. Mickaël Henry from the INRA of Avignon and his colleagues equipped 653 honeybees (Apis mellifera) with RFID microchips. This device allowed the researchers to track the bees in their back and forth between the hive and the environment. Then they gave half of them a small, non-lethal dose of Thiamethoxam, a substance of the neonicotinoid family with which the famous Cruiser is especially manufactured.
Compared to control bees that had not been exposed to the product, the treated bees were two to three times more likely to die outside the hive. The researchers argue that these deaths were likely to be produced because the pesticide interfered with the positioning system of the beehive.
In the second part of their study, the researchers used data from the tagging experiment with the bees to develop a mathematical model that simulates the dynamics of bee population. When mortality due to their lack of localization has been incorporated into these simulations, the model predicted that the bee populations exposed to pesticide were to decline to a level that did not allow their recovery.
Read more

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pathogen-associated self-medication behavior in the honeybee Apis mellifera


, Volume 68, Issue 11, pp 1777-1784
Date: 09 Aug 2014

Pathogen-associated self-medication behavior in the honeybee Apis mellifera

Abstract
Honeybees, Apis mellifera, have several prophylactic disease defense strategies, including the foraging of antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral compounds of plant products. Hence, honey and pollen contain many compounds that prevent fungal and bacterial growth and inhibit viral replication. Since these compounds are also fed to the larvae by nurse bees, they play a central role for colony health inside the hive. Here, we show that honeybee nurse bees, infected with the microsporidian gut parasite Nosema ceranae, show different preferences for various types of honeys in a simultaneous choice test. Infected workers preferred honeys with a higher antibiotic activity that reduced the microsporidian infection after the consumption of the honey. Since nurse bees feed not only the larvae but also other colony members, this behavior might be a highly adaptive form of therapeutic medication at both the individual and the colony level.

Monday, September 1, 2014

After 90 Percent Decline, Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly ; Genetically Engineered Crops Are Major Driver in Population Crash

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 26, 2014
Contact:  Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (443) 854-4368
Lincoln Brower, Sweet Briar College, (434) 277-5065
Sarina Jepsen, Xerces Society, (971) 244-3727
After 90 Percent Decline, Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly
Genetically Engineered Crops Are Major Driver in Population Crash
WASHINGTON The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.
Monarch butterfly
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tiago J. G. Fernandes. Photos are available for media use.
“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” said Lincoln Brower, preeminent monarch researcher and conservationist, who has been studying the species since 1954.
“We’re at risk of losing a symbolic backyard beauty that has been part of the childhood of every generation of Americans,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The 90 percent drop in the monarch’s population is a loss so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.”
The butterfly’s dramatic decline is being driven by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a uniquely potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in midwestern corn and soybean fields.

“The widespread decline of monarchs is driven by the massive spraying of herbicides on genetically engineered crops, which has virtually eliminated monarch habitat in cropland that dominates the Midwest landscape,” said Bill Freese, a Center for Food Safety science policy analyst. “Doing what is needed to protect monarchs will also benefit pollinators and other valuable insects, and thus safeguard our food supply.”
Monarch butterflies are known for their spectacular multigenerational migration each year from Mexico to Canada and back. Found throughout the United States during summer months, in winter most monarchs from east of the Rockies converge in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on just a few acres of trees. Most monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to trees along the California coast to overwinter.
The population has declined from a recorded high of approximately 1 billion butterflies in the mid-1990s to only 35 million butterflies last winter, the lowest number ever recorded. The overall population shows a steep and statistically significant decline of 90 percent over 20 years. In addition to herbicide use with genetically engineered crops, monarchs are also threatened by global climate change, drought and heat waves, other pesticides, urban sprawl, and logging on their Mexican wintering grounds. Scientists have predicted that the monarch’s entire winter range in Mexico and large parts of its summer range in the states could become unsuitable due to changing temperatures and increased risk of drought, heat waves and severe storms.
Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events and predation. Nearly half of the overwintering population in Mexico can be eaten by bird and mammal predators in any single winter; a single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs — 14 times the size of the entire current population.
“We need to take immediate action to protect the monarch so that it doesn’t become another tragic example of a widespread species being erased because we falsely assumed it was too common to become extinct,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species director at the Xerces Society. “2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, which was once so numerous no one would ever have believed it was at risk of extinction. History demonstrates that we cannot afford to be complacent about saving the monarch.”
“The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species like the monarch, and protect them, now, before it’s too late,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We’ve provided FWS a legal and scientific blueprint of the urgently needed action here.”
“The monarch is the canary in the cornfield, a harbinger of environmental change that we’ve brought about on such a broad scale that many species of pollinators are now at risk if we don’t take action to protect them,” said Brower, who has published hundreds of scientific studies on monarchs.
The Fish and Wildlife Service must now issue a “90-day finding” on whether the petition warrants further review.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Center for Food Safety is a nonprofit, public interest organization with half a million members nationwide. CFS and its members are dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and instead promoting sustainable alternatives.
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Harvard Study, Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds


Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds

Harvard study shows neonicotionoids are devastating colonies by triggerring colony collapse disorder
Impact of pesticide on bees and beehive
Scientists found bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had left their hives and died. Photograph: Rex Features
The mysterious vanishing of honeybees from hives can be directly linked to insectcide use, according to new research from Harvard University. The scientists showed that exposure to two neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used class of insecticide, lead to half the colonies studied dying, while none of the untreated colonies saw their bees disappear.
"We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering 'colony collapse disorder' in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter," said Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health and who led the work.
The loss of honeybees in many countries in the last decade has caused widespread concern because about three-quarters of the world's food crops require pollination. The decline has been linked to loss of habitat, disease and pesticide use. In December 2013, the European Union banned the use of three neonicotinoids for two years.
In the new Harvard study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, the scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 till April 2013. At each location, two colonies were treated with realistic doses of imidacloprid, two with clothianidin, and two were untreated control hives.
"Bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD," the team wrote. "However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies." Only one control colony was lost, the result of infection by the parasitic fungus Nosema and in this case the dead bees remained in the hive.
Previously, scientists had suggested that neonicotinoids can lead to CCD by damaging the immune systems of bees, making them more vulnerable to parasites and disease. However, the new research undermines this theory by finding that all the colonies had near-identical levels of pathogen infestation.
"It is striking and perplexing to observe the empty neonicotinoid-treated colonies because honey bees normally do not abandon their hives during the winter," the scientists wrote. "This observation may suggest the impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behaviour, as the results from the chronic sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure." Earlier research showed neonicotinoid exposure can damage the renowned ability of bees to navigate home.
The new research follows similar previous work by the same group and comparison of the two studies shows that cold winters appear to exacerbate the effects of neonicotinoids on the bees. In the cold winter of 2010-11, 94% of the insecticide-exposed colonies suffered CCD compared to 50% in the new study.
"Sudden deaths of entire honey bee colonies is a persistent concern in North America," said Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth's senior nature campaigner. "Comprehensive research into the role pesticides play in bee decline is urgently required – including how they may compound other pressures, such as a lack of food and loss of habitat." Lu agreed: "Future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD. Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honeybee loss."
In April, a landmark European study revealed the UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths in Europe. "The UK government [which opposed the EU's neonicotinoid ban] has accepted the need for a national action plan to reverse bee and pollinator decline," said de Zylva. "But its draft plan is dangerously complacent on pesticides, placing far too much trust in chemical firms and flawed procedures."
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