Environmental authorities are worried about a huge reduction in Norway’s estimated number of the large bird known as rype (white grouse, or ptarmigan). They say that stocks registered by researchers were cut in half from 2002 to 2012.
Norwegian researchers tracking bird hatchings have been cooperating with colleagues in Sweden and Finland to register fjellrype in a mountain area covering around 250,000 square kilometers. For the first time, reports news bureau NTB, they’ve detected a sharp decline.
At first glance the frozen bundles could be mistaken for conventional joints of meat. But as Ib Pedersen, a Danish pig farmer, lifts them carefully out of the freezer it becomes apparent they are in fact whole piglets - some horribly deformed, with growths or other abnormalities, others stunted. This is the result, Pedersen claims, of feeding the animals a diet containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Or more specifically, he believes, feed made from GM soya and sprayed with the controversial herbicide glyphosate. Pedersen, who produces 13,000 pigs a year and supplies Europe's largest pork company Danish Crown, says he became so alarmed at the apparent levels of deformity, sickness, deaths, and poor productivity he was witnessing in his animals that he decided to experiment by changing their diet from GM to non-GM feed. The results, he says, were remarkable: "When using GM feed I saw symptoms of bloat, stomach ulcers, high rates of diarrhoea, pigs born with the deformities ... but when I switched [to non GM feed] these problems went away, some within a matter of days." The farmer says that not only has the switch in diet improved the visible health of the pigs, it has made the farm more profitable, with less medicine use and higher productivity. "Less abortions, more piglets born in each litter, and breeding animals living longer." He also maintains that man hours have been reduced, with less cleaning needed and fewer complications with the animals.
Parasites and pesticides are among the suspected principle drivers of pollinator declines. However, especially in the case of key wild pollinators, there is insufficient data on the relative impact of these individual environmental stressors and if they interact to increase detrimental effects. Using a fully crossed factorial design, we investigated how laboratory exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, over a 9-week period and a prevalent trypanosome gut parasite Crithidia bombi affects various crucial colony traits of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. We show that chronic dietary exposure from an early stage of colony development to doses of thiamethoxam and clothianidin that could be encountered in the field truncated worker production, reduced worker longevity, and decreased overall colony reproductive success. Further, we demonstrate a significant interaction between neonicotinoid exposure and parasite infection on mother queen survival. The fate of the mother queen is intrinsically linked to colony success, and under combined pressure of parasite infection and neonicotinoid exposure mother queen survival was lowest. This indicates increased detrimental effects of combined exposure on this crucial colony trait. Combined effects may be exacerbated in stressful natural environments where more pronounced parasite virulence is expected. Our findings reiterate that dietary exposure to neonicotinoids can impact on bumblebee colony performance and fitness. The indication of combined negative effects of ecologically relevant pressures suggests additional adverse consequences for long-term population dynamics under complex field conditions.
Dressing seeds with pesticides to control pests is a widespread practice. Recent incidents of bee losses have directed attention to the emission of abraded pesticide-coated seed particles to the environment during sowing. This phenomenon of drift of pesticide dust can lead to pesticide contamination of air, water and other natural resources in crop-growing areas. This review article presents the state of the art of the phenomenon of dust emission and drift from pesticide seed dressing during sowing and its consequences. Firstly, pesticide seed treatment is defined and its pros and cons are set out, with the focus on dust, dust emission and dust drift from pesticide-coated seed. The factors affecting emission of pesticide dust (e.g. seed treatment quality, seed drilling technology and environmental conditions) are considered, along with its possible effects. The measuring techniques and protocols and models currently in use for calculating the behaviour of dust are reviewed, together with their features and limitations. Finally, possible mitigation measures are discussed, such as improving the seed quality and the use of modified seed drilling technology, and an overview of regulations and stewardship activities is given.
Uncovering SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms)-environment interactions can generate new hypotheses about the function of poorly characterized genetic variants and environmental factors, like pesticides. We evaluated SNP-environment interactions between 30 confirmed prostate cancer susceptibility loci and 45 pesticides and prostate cancer risk in 776 cases and 1,444 controls in the Agricultural Health Study. We used unconditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Multiplicative SNP-pesticide interactions were calculated using a likelihood ratio test. After correction for multiple tests using the False Discovery Rate method, two interactions remained noteworthy. Among men carrying two T alleles at rs2710647 in EH domain binding protein 1 (EHBP1) SNP, the risk of prostate cancer in those with high malathion use was 3.43 times those with no use (95% CI: 1.44–8.15) (P-interaction = 0.003). Among men carrying two A alleles at rs7679673 in TET2, the risk of prostate cancer associated with high aldrin use was 3.67 times those with no use (95% CI: 1.43, 9.41) (P-interaction = 0.006). In contrast, associations were null for other genotypes. Although additional studies are needed and the exact mechanisms are unknown, this study suggests known genetic susceptibility loci may modify the risk between pesticide use and prostate cancer.
A growing number of well-designed epidemiological and molecular studies provide substantial evidence that the pesticides used in agricultural, commercial, and home and garden applications are associated with excess cancer risk. This risk is associated both with those applying the pesticide and, under some conditions, those who are simply bystanders to the application. In this article, the epidemiological, molecular biology, and toxicological evidence emerging from recent literature assessing the link between specific pesticides and several cancers including prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer are integrated. Although the review is not exhaustive in its scope or depth, the literature does strongly suggest that the public health problem is real. If we are to avoid the introduction of harmful chemicals into the environment in the future, the integrated efforts of molecular biology, pesticide toxicology, and epidemiology are needed to help identify the human carcinogens and thereby improve our understanding of human carcinogenicity and reduce cancer risk.
I understand that Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently announced that it “has determined that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed are affecting the environment due to impacts on bees and other pollinators” (based on findings in Ontario and Quebec). They are applied as seed dressings on wheat and canola on the prairies, and that PMRA is providing an opportunity for public comment. I would like to urge PMRA to conduct a serious, more comprehensive review of the environmental impact of neonicotinoid insecticides. My reasoning is as follows. Insects are quietly but rapidly disappearing. The great American biologist, E O Wilson, said insects were world-rulers, because they play a central role in maintaining ecosystems and the whole web of life. The recent alarms in Europe and America about the fate of the honey bee – colonies have been crashing in increasing numbers – have started to open people's eyes to insects' importance in a more general way. But it is only the beginning of an understanding, and much more is needed if we are to take the action necessary to preserve our populations of insects and other invertebrates, the creatures without backbones which make up the majority of animal life, including snails, worms and spiders (spiders being arachnids, not insects).
Because pesticides may operate through different mechanisms, the authors studied the risk of prostate cancer associated with specific pesticides in the Agricultural Health Study (1993–2007). With 1,962 incident cases, including 919 aggressive prostate cancers among 54,412 applicators, this is the largest study to date. Rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated by using Poisson regression to evaluate lifetime use of 48 pesticides and prostate cancer incidence. Three organophosphate insecticides were significantly associated with aggressive prostate cancer: fonofos (rate ratio (RR) for the highest quartile of exposure (Q4) vs. nonexposed = 1.63, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22, 2.17; Ptrend < 0.001); malathion (RR for Q4 vs. nonexposed = 1.43, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.88; Ptrend = 0.04); and terbufos (RR for Q4 vs. nonexposed = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.64; Ptrend = 0.03). The organochlorine insecticide aldrin was also associated with increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer (RR for Q4 vs. nonexposed = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.18; Ptrend = 0.02). This analysis has overcome several limitations of previous studies with the inclusion of a large number of cases with relevant exposure and detailed information on use of specific pesticides at 2 points in time. Furthermore, this is the first time specific pesticides are implicated as risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer.
As UK officials tout GMO foods as ‘safe’ compared to organic crops, results of a long-term, peer-reviewed study conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Australia has been released – and it proves that GMO are anything but ‘safe.’ Livestock in the UK and around the world have been fed GMO for over two decades, since the USDA authorized the commercial sale of GMO soy and corn to feed not only animals, but human beings in 1996. Much of the meat raised on these GMO crop are sent overseas, to countries like the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and even to cattle-abundant nations like Australia. This most recent study proves that a more sober examination of the long term effects of GMO on our environment and health should be demanded of corporations like Monsanto, even as other evidence mounts that GMO crops are unhealthy, especially considering that nations trying to remove GMO from their food supply are still being devastated by its ill-effects.
A butterfly at risk from pesticides and a plant potentially targeted by collectors are B.C.'s newest endangered species, according to an annual assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Oregon branded skipper (Hesperia colorado oregonia) inhabits sparsely vegetated at-risk Garry Oak and coastal sandspit ecosystems and is found in only four of 16 fragmented sites totalling less than 16 square kilometres. It is threatened by the application of Btk pesticide used to control the invasive gypsy moth and by the encroachment of vegetation in open habitats. Also endangered is Tweedy's Lewisia, a showy perennial plant that exists in two small sub-populations and has undergone a decline of up to 30 per cent in recent years.