David Jolly, NYTIMES.COM
A growing body of evidence shows that the widespread use of the pesticides “has severe effects on a range of organisms that provide ecosystem services like pollination and natural pest control, as well as on biodiversity,” the report’s authors said.
An influential European scientific body said on Wednesday that a group of pesticides believed to contribute to mass deaths of honeybees is probably more damaging to ecosystems than previously thought and questioned whether the substances had a place in sustainable agriculture.
The finding could have repercussions on both sides of the Atlantic for the companies that produce the chemicals, which are known as neonicotinoids because of their chemical similarity to nicotine. Global sales of the chemicals reach into the billions of dollars.
The European Commission in 2013 banned the use of three neonicotinoids — clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — on flowering plants after a separate body, the European Food Safety Authority, found that exposure to the chemicals created “high acute risks” to bees.
But the chemicals continue to be employed on an industrial scale in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing their use after President Obama last year established a national Pollinator Health Task Force to help address concerns about so-called colony collapse disorder, a not fully understood phenomenon that has devastated commercial apiaries.
Pesticides are thought to be only one part of the widespread deaths of bees, however. Other factors are believed to include varroa destructor mites, viruses, fungi and poor nutrition.
Read more via Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Deaths Pose More Risks, European Group Says – NYTimes.com.
David Abbott, SONOMA WEST TIMES
Paul Hobbs is making news in the West County again, as, on the heels of a $100,000 settlement with Sonoma County over questionable vineyard conversion practices, a lawsuit filed against the winemaker and the county by a group of parents in the Twin Hills Union School District will head to court.
A hearing will take place on March 2 at 9 a.m. in department 17 at 3035 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa.
The lawsuit, filed in December 2013 by the Watertrough Children’s Alliance, alleges that the county failed in its oversight duties by issuing a permit for the transformation of a 48-acre apple orchard into 39 acres of grape vines.
“This is a major project and it should have a CEQA review. It’s a huge manipulation of the environment. Why shouldn’t it require CEQA?” WCA attorney Paul Carroll said. “It’s been applied to much smaller projects. Thirty-eight acres is a huge project right next to a school. Hobbs shouldn’t get a free ride.”
But the ride has not been exactly free for the internationally known vintner who has had his share of run-ins with regulatory agencies over several West County vineyard conversion projects.
On Feb. 2, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office announced a $100,000 settlement with Hobbs over a civil environmental complaint filed on May 28, 2014, focused on conversion projects that took place from 2011 to 2013.
Read more via Hobbs conversion headed to court – Sonoma West Times and News: News.
Glenda Anderson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Faced with an explosion of marijuana gardens, state regulators are developing a new program designed to bring medical cannabis farmers into compliance with state laws governing water use and water quality.
The regulatory program is expected to be unveiled sometime next year, said Erin Mustain, a senior water resources control engineer with the state Water Resources Control Board’s Cannabis Enforcement Unit.
It’s aimed at halting water diversions that can suck dry small streams; unpermitted grading projects that pollute waterways with dirt; and the misuse of toxic pesticides and fertilizers that have been known to poison streams and wildlife.
Water board staff members already have been meeting with medical pot growers in an effort to educate them about responsible water use and farming practices.
“From our outreach efforts and the feedback we have received from the growing community, we anticipate that most cannabis cultivators and landowners will want to work with us,” Mustain said.
Read more via Effort afoot to develop water-use rules for pot | The Press Democrat.
Brian Stallard, NATURE WORLD NEWS
Wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii will be "phasing out" a class of pesticides suspected to be causing severe damage to pollinator populations, planning to have the pesticides completely out of these protected areas by the start of 2016.
"We made the decision because we are concerned over the global decline in all pollinators, bees and butterflies," US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) spokeswoman Miel Corbet explained to press on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press.
According to Corbet, the FWS made the decision to start phasing out the pesticides called neonicotinoids after a great deal of scientific evidence suggested that they may be one of the main causes of honeybee population declines.
Nature World News has previously reported how neonicotinoids can encourage Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – a condition that causes wintering bees to suddenly wake up and abandon their hives, only to die in frigid temperatures. A more recent report has found that even if gardens are not treated with the pesticide directly, plants purchased at chain gardening stores may have been pre-treated with this toxin that can last for years.
via Bee Killing Pesticides Phased Out of Federal Refuges : News : Nature World News.
Federal Register: Public comments due before July 7, 2014
On June 4, after a two year dispute between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a coalition of conservation organizations and fishing groups, an agreement was finally reached to set reasonable no-spray buffer zones to protect salmon from five harmful insecticides: diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl.
These buffer zones protect salmon habitat by stopping aerial spraying of pesticides within 300 feet, and ground based spraying within 60 feet of salmon supporting waters. According to the agreement, it also provides detailed notifications to state regulators, pesticide applicators, farmers and the public about the mandatory no-spray buffer zones. These stipulations will remain in place until the National Marine Fisheries Service has completed their analysis of the impacts of those five pesticides. Then, once the analysis is completed, EPA will execute permanent protections based on their findings.
EPA is required by law under the Endangered Species Act to protect what little salmon are left on the Pacific Coast. Salmon are a critical indicator of how well we are maintaining both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, because their habitats are in streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the ocean. The fish are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, and changes to the river flow. The more salmon there are the more diverse and productive a freshwater ecosystem can be. Salmon runs are also important because they provide a wealth of marine nutrients upstream to waters that are otherwise low in productivity. Declines in salmon can lead to drastic effects up the food chain because they are the main food source for numerous animals.
via EPA Agrees to Greater Protection of Salmon from Pesticides.
Brian Stallard, NATURE WORLD NEWS
Two widely used pesticides appear to be making honeybees abandon their hives during inopportune seasons, a new study suggests.
According to the study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, a pair of neonicotinoids – a type of insecticide popular in developed countries – appears to be directly related to the collapse of honeybee colonies over cold winter seasons.
You may be familiar with the plight of the world’s honeybees, even if you found out about it just because of the ever-increasing price of pure honey. The total population of these insects appears to be declining, despite efforts to protect them from the effects of climate change – one of the original factors theorized to be behind an increasing number of failed hives. Other studies have revealed a recent influx of flower pollen transmitted diseases which can destroy a hive from the inside out.
via Pesticides to be Blamed For Dying Honeybees : News : Nature World News.