According to preliminary results of a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, 31.1 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. were lost during the 2012/2013 winter. In addition to this national report, several state level incidents of large scale honey bee colony losses have been reported. In a recent incident in Florida, citrus groves experienced an acute foliar poisoning that resulted in severely damaged colonies. Oranges had an early bloom this year, and were still blooming near the end of April. One beekeeper’s colonies suffered immense losses due to drift from an application of Montana 2F, an imdacloprid-based herbicide, from a neighboring grove. 1000-1500 colonies were killed, while 10,000-13,000 colonies suffered severe damage. In Maryland, close to 60 percent of the managed hives died during the 2012/2013 winter, according to the state bee inspector and local beekeepers. In Canada, beekeepers are calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow commercial beekeepers to import package bees from the U.S. because of higher than expected bee losses this past winter. Some beekeepers reported average losses of up to 50 percent of their hives. Though weather is seen as a major factor in the wintering losses of Canadian honey bees, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists also argue that the use of systemic pesticides are connected to these dramatic bee losses.
That's not going over well with everyone in Congress. Tensions between conventional and organic agriculture boiled over this week during a late-night House Agriculture Committee debate on farm legislation that for decades has propped up traditional crops and largely ignored organics. When Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., a former organic farmer, offered an amendment to make it easier for organic companies to organize industry-wide promotional campaigns, there was swift backlash from some farm-state Republicans. One lawmaker said he didn't want to see the industry get a free ride and a second complained about organics' "continued assault on agriculture. That's one of the things that has caught me and raises my concerns, is that industry's lack of respect for traditional agriculture," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. He was referring to some organic companies' efforts to reduce the number of genetically modified crops in the marketplace. At the same time, Scott acknowledged that he and his wife buy organic foods. Growing consumer interest in organics has proved tough for some Republicans on the committee to ignore. Eight Republicans, most of them newer members of the committee, joined with all of the committee's Democrats in supporting the amendment, which was adopted 29-17.
Locals in Boggabilla are reporting a rise in cancer-related deaths and disorders. Families like the Munro family are calling for a government task-force into chemicals and pesticides used in the region. "We have possibly over 20 Aboriginal families here in Moree with Spina Bifida children. We have I would suggest the same amount in numbers with Cerebral Palsy children - the autistic rate I think there's 9-10 Aboriginal families with autistic children," said local Lyall Munro. No one really knows what's causing the rising number of complications connected with cancer including breast removals. Lyall Munro claims around 60 deaths a year in the Aboriginal community of Moree alone are cancer-related. He says the common link between the deaths is that most people have worked in the cotton industry.
By their nature, South Florida’s tropical butterflies have always been ephemeral creatures, coming and going with the rhythms of the life cycle and season. Now they’re just gone. In what may be an unprecedented die-off, at least five varieties of rare butterflies have vanished from the pine forests and seaside jungles of the Florida Keys and southern Miami-Dade County, the only places some were known to exist. Marc Minno, a Gainesville entomologist commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to perform a major survey of South Florida’s butterfly population, filed reports late last year recommending that the Zestos skipper (Epargyreus zestos) and rockland Meske’s skipper (Hesperia meskei) — both unseen for a decade or more — be declared extinct. He believes the same fate has befallen a third, a Keys subspecies called the Zarucco duskywing (Erynnis zarucco), and that two more, the nickerbean blue (Cyclargus ammon) and Bahamian swallowtail (Heraclides andraemon), also have disappeared from their only North American niche.
This report provides estimated annual agricultural pesticide use for counties of the conterminous United States for 459 compounds from 1992 through 2009 following the methods described in Thelin and Stone (2013). As described in Thelin and Stone (2013), U.S. Department of Agriculture county-level data for harvested-crop acreage were used in conjunction with proprietary Crop Reporting District (CRD)-level pesticide-use data to estimate county-level pesticide use. Estimated pesticide use (EPest) values were calculated with both the EPest-high and EPest-low methods. The distinction between the EPest-high method and the EPest-low method is that there are more counties with estimated pesticide use for EPest-high compared to EPest-low (Thelin and Stone, 2013). The estimates of annual agricultural pesticide use are provided in tab-delimited files and organized by compound, year, state Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code, county FIPS code, and kg (amount in kilograms).
Just over a week ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a joint report intended to address the devastating losses occurring in bee colonies across the country. The report acknowledged the problem and then refused to take the next logical step. While the report admitted that “Acute and sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bees have been increasingly documented, and are a primary concern,” the agencies refuse to take any action to suspend the use of the pesticides in question: neonicotinoids (commonly referred to as “neonics”). This revealing report highlights a major problem with our regulatory agencies – eschewing precaution and instead favoring the market by approving chemicals until proven dangerous, by which time damage is irreversible.
Trying to research a bird that is disappearing is a nearly impossible task, if you ask Dave Mossop. The Yukon Research Centre biologist has been studying the American kestrel (Falco sparverius) – North America’s smallest falcon – since the 1980s. In those two decades, numbers of American kestrels in the Yukon have plummeted by 80 per cent. A bird that was once plentiful on telephone wires across the territory is rarely spotted these days. “It’s a real catastrophe and a wake-up call,” says Mossop, who became interested in the American kestrel by accident. He wanted to find out how larger birds like boreal owls and ducks were able to find nesting cavities in small Yukon trees. The kestrel also finds refuge in tree cavities, most often those left over from woodpeckers. While Mossop was tracking these cavities, he realized that the number with kestrels in them was dwindling. That was in the early ‘90s. Mossop started networking with other bird biologists around North America to see if they were noticing a similar trend. But in the ‘90s and the early part of 2000, only the Yukon was experiencing significant declines, he says. That changed in 2009 when a research conference was held to discuss the American kestrel. “It turned out the decline was being seen everywhere at that point and that led to people raising the alarm.”
A biologist with Bird Studies Canada in Sackville is warning people that the chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica) is disappearing in New Brunswick. Allison Manthorne, co-ordinator of Maritimes SwiftWatch, says the population of chimney swifts has declined by 95 per cent in Canada since 1968, with a close to 50 per cent range shrinkage in the Maritimes. "The chimney swift historically lived in hollow trees, the kind of tree that you find in an old growth forest and our landscape has changed so much that nesting and roosting spaces don't really exist anymore," she said. And while the birds adapted to using the chimneys of schools, churches, houses and industrial buildings, many chimneys are now being capped, steel-lined or torn down, further reducing their nesting options. Insect decline is another problem, said Manthorne. Flying insects, such as mosquitoes, are the major food source for chimney swifts, she said. Chimney swifts are small grey-brown birds with long, pointed wings and short, tapered bodies. They are often mistaken for swallows due to their shape and size. They spend the winter months in the upper Amazon basin of South America including Peru, northwestern Brazil and northern Chile and breed in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The US supreme court came down solidly on the side of the agricultural giant Monsanto on Monday, ruling unanimously that an Indiana farmer could not use patented genetically modified soybeans to create new seeds without paying the company. The case – which was cast by the farmer's supporters as a classic tale of David vs Goliath – could well dictate the future of modern farming. In an unanimous ruling written by Justice Elena Kagan, the court ruled that the farmer, Vernon Bowman, had infringed on Monsanto's patent for its GM soybeans when he bought some of those seeds from a local grain elevator and planted them for a second, late-season crop. Monsanto sued, arguing that Bowman had signed a contract when he initially bought the Roundup Ready soybeans in the spring, agreeing not to save any of the harvest for replanting. The seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup Ready weedkiller.
A method is described for analysing and sampling imidacloprid and its metabolite 6-chloronicotinic acid in greenhouse air by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with diode-array detection (DAD). The trapping efficiency of two solid sorbents, Amberlite XAD-2 and Amberlite XAD-4 and the use of different desorption procedures have been tested. To validate the methodology, standard atmospheres containing known concentrations of these pesticides and with different relative humidities were generated. No breakthrough was observed in the range of concentrations studied. Dissipation of analytes was investigated in a 24 h period after application by using personal samplers in a field experiment.