Revealed: Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms

Revealed: Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 30, 2020 SNIP: The US agriculture giant Monsanto and the German chemical giant BASF were aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms, internal documents seen by the Guardian show. Risks were downplayed even while they planned how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto’s new seeds just to avoid damage, according to documents unearthed during a recent successful $265m lawsuit brought against both firms by a Missouri farmer. The documents, some of which date back more than a decade, also reveal how Monsanto opposed some third-party product testing in order to curtail the generation of data that might have worried regulators. And in some of the internal BASF emails, employees appear to joke about sharing “voodoo science” and hoping to stay “out of jail”. The new crop system developed by Monsanto and BASF was designed to address the fact that millions of acres of US farmland have become overrun with weeds resistant to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, best known as Roundup. The collaboration between the two companies was built around a different herbicide called dicamba. Dicamba has been in use since the 1960s but traditionally was used sparingly, and not on growing crops, because it has a track record of volatilizing – moving far from where it is sprayed – particularly in warm growing months. As it moves it can damage or kill the plants it drifts across. The companies announced in 2011 that they were collaborating in the development of the dicamba-tolerant cropping systems, granting each...
‘This is total devastation’ — Magic Valley bees dying in droves

‘This is total devastation’ — Magic Valley bees dying in droves

SOURCE: Magic Valley DATE: December 4, 2019 SNIP: A carpet of dead bees covers the ground in front of his hives. “It’s devastating,” Tony Kaneaster of Kaneaster Apiary said. “This is just totally devastating. They can’t pick up from something like this.” Kaneaster grabs a handful of bees from the inch-deep row and sifts through them. They’re light and fuzzy in his hand. The living bees constantly clean up the deceased and push them out of the hive, and gusts of wind can blow the corpses away quickly, so these carcasses are fresh. Dave Kaneaster bought a thousand hives when he was 20. Now he’s 76 and has been in the bee business in Gooding for 56 years. His specialized license plate reads HONEYBZ. Tony Kaneaster has been in the bee business with his father for 40 years. The 49-year-old and his dad have seen their bees die by the thousands a few times in the past decade. Beekeepers Dave and Tony Kaneaster review fungicide descriptions Nov. 22 at their bee yard in Bliss. The Kaneasters aren’t sure what’s killing their bees, but they suspect fungicides are the culprit. But they’ve never seen anything quite like this. “This is 100% loss,” Tony Kaneaster said. “Before, it was a loss once in a while and (the bees) could start working out of it. These are completely dying.” The Kaneasters don’t know for sure what’s killing their bees, but they have an idea: fungicides, chemicals farmers spray on their fields to protect their crops from fungal diseases. There are some eerie signs of unusual deaths for the Kaneasters’ bees. For instance,...
‘On life support:’ Research shows common pesticides starve, disorient birds

‘On life support:’ Research shows common pesticides starve, disorient birds

SOURCE: CTV News DATE: November 9, 2019 SNIP: Newly published research says two of Canada’s most commonly used pesticides cause migrating songbirds to lose weight and their sense of direction. “This is very good evidence that even a little dose — incidental, you might call it — in their feeding could be enough to have serious impacts,” said University of Saskatchewan biologist Christy Morrissey, whose paper was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. Morrissey studied the effect of two widely used pesticide types — neonicotinoids and organochlorines. Both are used on more than 100 different crops, including wheat and canola, and are found in dozens of commercial products. The so-called neonics are often applied to seeds before they’re planted in the ground. Organochlorines are applied in tiny granules. Both are known to be lethal to birds in large doses, but Morrissey wanted to study the impact of smaller amounts. She and her colleagues took three groups of white-crowned sparrows, a common migratory songbird found throughout North America, and exposed them to a small dose, a somewhat larger dose, or no dose at all. All doses were kept deliberately small. The low neonic dose was the equivalent of four treated canola seeds per day for three days — about one per cent of the bird’s diet. The results were dramatic. After three days, the low-dose birds lost 17 per cent of their weight. The high-dose birds lost 25 per cent. “That’s a lot,” said Morrissey. “At that point, those birds were on life support.” The birds exposed to organochlorines kept their weight, but they lost something else — their...
Fishery collapse ‘confirms Silent Spring pesticide prophecy’

Fishery collapse ‘confirms Silent Spring pesticide prophecy’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 31, 2019 SNIP: The Silent Spring prophecy that pesticides could “still the leaping of fish” has been confirmed, according to scientists investigating the collapse of fisheries in Japan. They say similar impacts are likely to have occurred around the world. The long-term study showed an immediate plunge in insect and plankton numbers in a large lake after the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides to rice paddies. This was rapidly followed by the collapse of smelt and eel populations, which had been stable for decades but rely on the tiny creatures for food. The analysis shows a strong correlation but cannot prove a causal link between the insecticides and the collapse. However, independent scientists said other possibilities had been ruled out and that the work provided “compelling evidence”. The research is the first to reveal the knock-on effects of insecticides on fish. Harm to bees is well known, but previous studies in Europe have linked neonicotinoids to die-offs in other freshwater species including mayflies, dragonflies and snails and also to falling populations of farmland bird that feed on insects, including starlings and swallows. The insecticide has also been shown to make migrating songbirds lose their way. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, her seminal book on the dangers of pesticides in 1962. In their report, the Japanese researchers said: “She wrote: ‘These sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes – nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams.’...
Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres

SOURCE: EcoWatch DATE: June 25, 2019 SNIP: More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the ’emergency’ use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres? EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, “that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to spray.” In a press release sent to EcoWatch, the Center for Biological Diversity stated: The approval includes 2019 crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Ten of the 11 states have been granted the approvals for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approvals for at least six consecutive years. If an occurrence is happening six years in a row, does that justify an emergency? “This administration has been grossly abusing this exemption to allow the use of this one pesticide called sulfoxaflor on a vast acreage year after year,” said Burd. Our biodiversity is at serious risk. For example, in Texas — where 5.8 million acres got emergency exemption to spray — more than 800 native bee species and eight species of bumblebees reside. It is also an important migration route for monarch butterflies. “Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees...