May 8, 2013
In apparent contradiction to its stated intention to protect pollinators and find solutions to the current pollinator crisis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the unconditional registration of the new insecticide sulfoxaflor, which the agency classifies as highly toxic to honey bees. Despite warnings and concerns raised by beekeepers and environmental groups, sulfoxaflor will further endanger bees and beekeeping. The U.S. EPA continues to put industry interests first to exacerbate an already dire pollinator crisis.
In January, the agency proposed to impose conditional registration on sulfoxaflor due to inconclusive and outstanding data on long-term honey bee brood impacts. At that time, the agency requested two additional studies—a study on residue impacts, and a field test to assess impacts to honey bee colonies and brood development. This week, the EPA granted full unconditional registration to sulfoxaflor stating that there were no outstanding data, and that even though sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to bees it does not demonstrate substantial residual toxicity to exposed bees, nor are “catastrophic effects” on bees expected from its use. While sulfoxaflor exhibited behavioral and navigational abnormalities in honey bees, the EPA downplays these effects as “short-lived.” The agency says it has reviewed 400 studies in collaboration with its counterparts in Australia and Canada to support its decision. However, these studies do not seem to be currently available in the public scientific literature. Continue reading
Honey May Hold The Sticky Solution To Bee Colony Collapse
By Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times
Honeybees that live off the same sweetener found in soft drinks could be more vulnerable to the microbial enemies and pesticides believed to be linked to catastrophic collapse of honeybee colonies worldwide, a new study suggests.
Researchers identified a compound found in the wall of plant pollen that appears to activate the genes that help metabolize toxins, including pesticides, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.
Although pollen winds up in the honey produced by Apis mellifera, these bees used to pollinate crops spend more time sipping on the same sugar substitute that is ubiquitous in processed foods – high-fructose corn syrup. The honey substitute is an important way for the industry, which contributes about $14 billion to the U.S. economy, to make ends meet. Continue reading
AAAS / Science
A bee with a transmitter glued to its back was one of the specimens in a study that used the radio technology to track what happened to bee colonies exposed to a widely used pesticide.
A widely used farm pesticide first introduced in the 1990s has caused significant changes to bee colonies and removing it could be the key factor in restoring nature’s army of pollinators, according to two studies released Thursday.
The scientists behind the studies in Europe called for regulators to consider banning the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoid insecticides. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency told msnbc.com that the studies would be incorporated into a review that’s currently under way.
A pesticide trade group questioned the data, saying the levels of pesticide used were unrealistically high, while the researchers said the levels used were typical of what bees would find on farms. Continue reading
March 28, 2013
A Disastrous Year for Bees: For America’s beekeepers, who have struggled for nearly a decade with a mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder that kills honeybees en masse, the last year was particularly bad.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.
A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.
The pesticide industry disputes that. But its representatives also say they are open to further studies to clarify what, if anything, is happening. Continue reading
Federal agencies have started feeling the impact of the across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, that went into effect March 1. Plans to furlough employees and cut programs are underway at many of the agencies charged with issuing and enforcing public health and safety standards. For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these additional funding cuts will further drain already decreasing resources and impair the agency’s ability to protect our air, water, and health. Continue reading
In 1989, Dusty and Tamera Hagy bought 81 rural acres in Jackson County, West Virginia. Twenty-one years later, the Hagys sued four natural gas drilling firms alleging the natural gas wells drilled on their property in 2008 contaminated their drinking water and caused physical harm.
The Hagys’ water contamination lawsuit demonstrates how the natural gas industry has built a near-perfect “federal legal exemption’s framework” that when combined with lax or absent state regulations and the legal system’s high costs, inherently approves of citizen collateral damage with no restitution.
The consequence of this framework is that the burden of proof is placed on plaintiffs who, at best, are forced to settle with natural gas companies, thereby sealing the case from public scrutiny, scientific examination and legal precedence. Because the Hagys didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement with the natural gas companies involved, their legal case gives the public a rare window into how fracking lawsuits play out in reality. Continue reading
A new Environmental Working Group analysis of 2011 water quality tests by 201 large U.S. municipal water systems that serve more than 100 million people in 43 states has determined that all are polluted with unwanted toxic chemicals called trihalomethanes. These chemicals, an unintended side effect of chlorination, elevate the risks of bladder cancer, miscarriages and other serious ills.
“Many people are likely exposed to far higher concentrations of trihalomethanes than anyone really knows,” said Renee Sharp, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the analysis. “For most water systems, trihalomethane contamination fluctuates from month to month, sometimes rising well beyond the legal limit set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.” Continue reading