Ontario first jurisdiction in North America to curb bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.
A new rule that goes into effect July 1 will reduce 80 percent of the neonicotinoid-coated corn and soybean seeds planted in the province by 2017.
Scientists have linked massive bee mortality to neonicotinoid insecticides. Corporations that manufacture the insecticides claim they are safe and do not harm bees.
Neonicotinoids coat up to 90 percent of corn and one-third of soybean seeds, accounting for the pink color of seed corn and blue soybean seed.
Some factors accounting for the rapid expansion of neonicotinoid-coated seeds include the acquisition of small seed companies by global corporations. Today, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Vilmorin control nearly 60 percent of global seed. Consolidation has meant increasing prices for seed. Companies provide greater insurance benefits for farmers who plant coated seeds rather than uncoated seeds. That means neonicotinoids are not being used to respond to an actual insect threat but as a form of insurance. Because neonicotinoids kill beneficial insects as well has harmful insects, some scientists question the value to farmers. One researcher documented an increase in slugs in soybean fields because the slugs are impervious to neonicotinoids, but the insecticide kills beetles that eat slugs.
Industry advocates have claimed GM seed reduces pesticide use, however organic farming advocates claim that calculation fails to measure the amount of pesticide coating on GM seeds.
Dave Bishop farms organically in central Illinois and has another perspective on neonicotinoids:
“Simply banning neonicotinoids will likely result in the creation and use of different, equally toxic products designed to protect seedlings in soils degraded by decades of monocultural cropping. As we’ve seen with glysophate and Bt corn, nature soon develops resistance to these toxins, resulting in the use of more and more toxic pesticides.
“The only real solution, for us and the bees, is to change the system itself. By using cover crops, extended crop rotations, increased diversity, and other organic farming practices, we can effectively address these production issues without pesticides. Ultimately, the way we produce food will be decided by you as the consumer. Your choices of what you buy and how you buy it determines what is produced and how it’s produced. Establish the same relationship with your farmer as you would want to have with any other health care provider. Visit the farms where your food is grown and tell the farmers what they do matters. Virtually every memorable event in our lives is accompanied by food. So make every day memorable, right in your kitchen!”
Burning coal exacerbates inequality
“Let Them Eat Coal,” a report by the relief agency Oxfam International, is urging members of the G7 group of countries to wean themselves of coal in order to save lives, save money and save the planet. Burning coal for electric generation will exacerbate climate change and cause widespread food shortages, the report said.
The report details how it is now cheaper to invest in and produce electricity with renewables than in coal plants in G7 countries.
“Each coal power station can be seen as a weapon of climate destruction – fuelling ruinous weather patterns, devastating harvests, driving food price rises and ultimately leaving more people facing hunger. With these climate impacts falling disproportionately on the most vulnerable and least food-secure people, the burning of coal is further exacerbating inequality,” the report states.
“Let Them Eat Coal” details how many aging coal plants each G7 country still operates, and how the wealthiest countries of the world can switch to alternatives, while creating jobs and without losing money.
For complete report:
France bans Roundup sales to home gardeners due to cancer risk
The French Ecology Minister is calling for an end to the sale of Roundup from home garden centers in France, citing the potential cancer risk caused by glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup.
Four months ago, the World Health Organization’s UN International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen.
Roundup is the most widely used weed killer in the world. It is used by both home gardeners and farmers. The ban in France calls for ending the sale of Roundup to “amateur gardeners.”
The Dutch Parliament has called for a ban on sales of the weed killer by the end of 2015.
Pesticide used widely in Central Illinois faces possible ban
Even though it was banned a decade ago for use in homes and schools, chlorpyrifos is still used widely in central Illinois as an insecticide on corn and soybeans. Now a California appeals court has given the EPA a deadline to decide whether or not to ban agricultural use of the pesticide.
After a 2012 aerial application of chlorpyrifos on corn in Stark County north of Peoria, the pesticide was measured at what a scientist called alarming levels in the air at an organic farm more than two miles away.
Chlorpyrifos has long been suspected as a human health hazard. Dow Agrosciences, the manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, maintains its safety, however, scientific research has linked it to birth defects, low birth weight and impaired brain development. It is suspected to be an endocrine disrupting chemical linked to autism and ADHD.
“It is time for EPA to protect children in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide causes brain damage in children,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. “EPA has dragged its feet for far too long in the face of harm to children and workers.”
The U.S. Geological Survey has documented use of chlorpyrifos in central Illinois at one of the highest application levels for more than the past 20 years.