‘Extremely Hazardous’ Pesticide Federally Approved For Use On Florida Citrus

‘Extremely Hazardous’ Pesticide Federally Approved For Use On Florida Citrus

SOURCE: WUSF Public Media DATE: January 13, 2021 SNIP: The neurotoxin aldicarb is banned in about 100 countries, and is only one of 36 pesticides that the World Health Organization has called “extremely hazardous.” It’s now allowed to be used on Florida oranges and grapefruits. The Environmental Protection Agency announced late Tuesday its approval for registering the expanded use of the harmful pesticide aldicarb on Florida citrus trees to combat the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that has spread citrus greening and decimated production. “The registration limits the product’s sale and distribution to an amount allowing up to 100,000 acres in Florida to be treated each application season (Nov. 15-April 30) for three growing seasons, expiring on April 30, 2023,” said federal officials said in the release. The agency is also allowing citrus growers across the country to use the antibiotic streptomycin, typically used to treat certain forms of tuberculosis, as a pesticide on oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have raised concerns that using the important antibiotic in this way could increase the risk for bacterial resistance to it. Streptomycin is banned for use as a pesticide in the EU and Brazil. “Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Make no mistake, these unbelievably reckless decisions will harm children and farmworkers, and further hamper our ability to combat major public health crises.” Aldicarb has been linked to brain damage in young children and...
L.A.’s coast was once a DDT dumping ground. No one could see it — until now

L.A.’s coast was once a DDT dumping ground. No one could see it — until now

SOURCE: LA Times DATE; October 25, 2020 SNIP: Not far from Santa Catalina Island, in an ocean shared by divers and fishermen, kelp forests and whales, David Valentine decoded unusual signals underwater that gave him chills. The UC Santa Barbara scientist was supposed to be studying methane seeps that day, but with a deep-sea robot on loan and a few hours to spare, now was the chance to confirm an environmental abuse that others in the past could not. He was chasing a hunch, and sure enough, initial sonar scans pinged back a pattern of dots that popped up on the map like a trail of breadcrumbs. The robot made its way 3,000 feet down to the bottom, beaming bright lights and a camera as it slowly skimmed the seafloor. At this depth and darkness, the uncharted topography felt as eerie as driving through a vast desert at night. And that’s when the barrels came into view. Barrels filled with toxic chemicals banned decades ago. Leaking. And littered across the ocean floor. “Holy crap. This is real,” Valentine said. “This stuff really is down there. “It has been sitting here this whole time, right off our shore.” Tales of this buried secret bubbling under the sea had haunted Valentine for years: a largely unknown chapter in the most infamous case of environmental destruction off the coast of Los Angeles — one lasting decades, costing tens of millions of dollars, frustrating generations of scientists. The fouling of the ocean was so reckless, some said, it seemed unimaginable. As many as half a million of these barrels could still be underwater...
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...