GMOs aren’t scary — pesticides are

  • Americans who care about food and health have wrung their hands worrying about genetically modified organisms in recent years.
  • GMO labeling dominated conversations in 2016, when Obama signed a GMO label law that will allow companies to use a QR code to disclose products with GMOs.
  • But worrying about GMOs, which most scientists deem to be safe for consumption, shouldn’t be keeping you up at night in 2017.
  • The scarier threat to public health? Pesticides.
  • Farmers use chemicals to kill organisms that feast on their crops, but these chemicals stay in soil and groundwater for decades — potentially endangering us and generations to come. Read more

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This bee is licking sugar from a q-tip as part of a “proboscis extension reflex” assay.  This experiment, at a lab in Penn State University, is used to test the memory and learning ability of bees.  Researchers expose the restrained bee to a smell and then offer it a sugar reward.   Then after a pause, they expose the bee to the same smell and see if it sticks out its tongue (also called proboscis) in anticipation of the reward.  If it does, then you know is has learned to associate the smell with food. 

Researchers have used this test to show that very small amounts of pesticides and even “inactive" agricultural spray additives are harming bees’ ability to remember where their food is.

This bee was photographed for a story on honeybees in the May issue of National Geographic.

- Anand Varma (@anandavarma), National Geographic photographer

Pollution and toxic contamination know no boundaries, nor do the birds we care about at ABC. That’s why we’re so concerned about the bill introduced in the House of Representatives to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency and leave protection of “environmental assets” to the states.

In the words of Cynthia Palmer, our Director for Pesticides Science and Regulation, “We need national standards to keep the air and water safe for all of us. The states can play an important role in fine-tuning their environmental protections to address local needs. But we cannot expect each state to carry out the in-depth assessments needed on thousands of toxic chemicals, many of which are lethal to birds as well as to people. The proposal to axe the EPA is part of the unprecedented sellout of basic environmental protections to special interests.”

Please call your reps and ask that they not support H.R. 861 or any bill that undermines #EPA’s ability to protect the environment!

Photo of Lucy’s Warbler by Scott Olmstead/Flickr

Horned Lark is just one of the many birds affected by chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that was, until yesterday, on track to be banned by the EPA for use in agricultural fields. It was banned for home use years ago.

“We’re disgusted by Mr. Pruitt’s decision to yield to corporate interests, given the dangers posed by chlorpyrifos to birds, children, and agricultural workers,” said Cynthia Palmer, Pesticide Program Director at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Chlorpyrifos, one of the most-used pesticides in the United States, has been killing birds and poisoning the environment for the past half-century.

Because of those risks to wildlife and to human health, ABC has been calling for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos for years. Environmental Protection Agency scientists agreed and were on course to ban the pesticide this month.

But then, EPA chief Scott Pruitt rejected the conclusion of the agency’s own pesticide experts, who had recommended that EPA forbid use of the pesticide permanently at farms nationwide. Rebuffing a petition filed by environmental groups a decade ago, Mr. Pruitt took “final agency action,” which may not be revisited until 2022.

Studies show that women and children are particularly at risk from exposure to chlorpyrifos. ABC is also very concerned about the documented threat chlorpyrifos poses to birds, especially to endangered species. This past summer, EPA’s draft biological evaluation on threatened and endangered species found that chlorpyrifos is “likely to adversely affect” 97 percent of all wildlife, including more than 100 listed bird species.

Speak out: Tell your elected representatives that chlorpyrifos must be banned!

#americanbirdconservancy #chlorpyrifos #pesticides #epa #pruitt #birds #hornedlark #insecticides

Bee studies stir up pesticide debate

The threat that neonicotinoids pose to bees becomes clearer.

The case for restricting a controversial family of insecticides is growing. Two studies published on 22 April in Nature1, 2 address outstanding questions about the threat that the chemicals pose to bees, and come as regulators around the world gear up for a fresh debate on pesticide restrictions.

Continue Reading.