Herbicides on RoW land; Congress Dining on Food Contaminated with Bird- and Bee-Killing Insecticides

Pollinator News     August 7, 2015

Indiana Beekeeper Stops Herbicide Use on RoW Land

Deborah and John Donk, Life members of Indiana Beekeepers Association live on twenty-five beautiful acres in southeastern Indiana. They are surrounded by farms, neighbors with gardens, and a creek that is the kids’ summer swimming spot.

In late July, Deborah and her neighbors received letters from Hoosier Electric that the Right-of-Way (RoW) under the utility lines near their properties was going to be sprayed with herbicides. Deborah learned the herbicide that was going to be used was a product containing Imazapyr, Aminocyclopyrachlor, Metsulfuron, and 38% “other ingredients.” Grave concerns were raised as the product label states clearly crops and non-target plants will be harmed if this product is applied within the root-zone of non-target plants. If the herbicide drifted to crop land or pollinator habitat the land could not be used for a year after exposure to this herbicide. Neighbors were concerned about the run-off of this herbicide into the near-by creek where children swim. This entire action by the utility company appeared to be in direct contradiction to the recently published National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey bees and Other Pollinators. The following pertains to RoW lands for electric utilities, and is directly quoted from the National Strategy:

“Working with the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and Electric Utilities on Transmission Line RoW Habitat: The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has delegated responsibility to develop and enforce standards to ensure the reliability of the bulk power system, including the Reliability Standard that addresses vegetation management covering tree trimming on high voltage transmission RoWs (FAC-003-2; residential power line maintenance is under the purview of state and local authorities). The transmission line requirements place strict responsibilities on operators that trees and other vegetation growing in or adjacent to a power line RoW be trimmed to prevent power outages caused by tree contact with a transmission line. These RoWs can be cost-effectively managed to offer prime pollinator habitat of low-growing grasses, forbs, and shrubs, using techniques such as Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM). A number of major public and private utilities have become exemplars of IVM practices to encourage pollinators. Federal agencies (EPA, USDA, DOI, DOE) are revising the existing Memorandum of Understanding with EEI to further these beneficial pollinator practices.”

How did Deborah, John and her neighbors make a difference? They knew they needed information, and support of others, so they contacted the Pollinator Stewardship Council. Starting on Saturday, July 25th, Deborah contacted the Program Director, and together we worked out a plan of action. Pollinator Stewardship Council compiled information on the herbicides proposed to be used, we analyzed the label, and created a document based on that analysis pointing out the concerns to beekeepers, farmers, and the neighbors along the RoW. We wrote letters to Hoosier Electric’s CEO, and Director of Public Affairs, as well as to the General Manager of Southeastern Indiana Rural Electric. We provided research and support materials for Ms. Donk to take with her to a personal meeting with the G.M. of the Rural Electric Co-op. We notified local media about the issue and the concerns of Indiana residents. We also notified the leadership in Indiana’s beekeeping community to mobilize support for this Indiana beekeeper. Debbie Seib sent an email seeking support of other beekeepers at a meeting Deborah and John Donk had scheduled with the herbicide applicator. Jim Orem of the Southern Indiana Beekeepers Assn. supported Deborah’s efforts, and attended the meeting with the forester from Hoosier Electric, and State Chemists. Deborah called the Pollinator Stewardship Council Thursday, July 30th with an update: they won! The utility company would not spray herbicide along the RoW land near her property, her neighbors’ property, or near crop land. The utility company was surveying the land from the air, and based their original decision to spray on aerial surveys instead of a ground level survey. Ms. Donk and her neighbors spoke of the wildflowers and blackberry bushes, not tree saplings on the RoW. “There are alternatives to herbicide spraying. The neighbors are even happy to mow the RoW land adjoining their own lands.” Ms. Donk told Hoosier Electric. “I have never done anything like this, but I had to protect my bees, and the native pollinators I see all over that land. In the end, it turned out well. The utility company did listen to us. They heard our concerns, we listened to them, and a solution was created. My bees will be safer. I can use my land to plant pollinator forage without fear of the plants getting contaminated. And the parents can feel safe about their kids swimming in the creek.” Deborah exclaimed, still elated days after this “win.”

Pollinator Stewardship Council is here to help beekeepers protect their honey bees, and native pollinators from the impact of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides). We will support you in your local actions, provide information, and help mobilize support from within and outside of the beekeeping community. Beekeepers can take action, and be successful. Working together, we can protect our honey bees.

Members of Congress Dining on Food Contaminated with Bird- and Bee-Killing Insecticides

Chemicals Found in Dining Hall Food Have Been Restricted by the European Union due to Deadly Impacts on Pollinators
(Reprinted with permission of American Bird Conservancy)

Amer Bird Conserv pic(Washington, D.C., July 29, 2015) A new study by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found bird- and bee-killing insecticides in nearly every food eaten by the nation’s Senators, Representatives, and others who dine in the cafeterias of the United States Congress.

These pesticides, called neonicotinoids, are the nation’s most widely used insecticides and persist in soils for months to years. The insecticides were banned by the European Union in 2013 and restricted by Ontario, Canada in 2015 because of their connection to the large-scale disappearance of pollinators. As an earlier ABC study reported, the pesticides are lethal to birds and to many of the invertebrates on which they feed.

Based on these findings, ABC is urging Representatives to cosponsor the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015, suspending the use of neonicotinoids pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, bats, and other wildlife.

Most Foods Contained Multiple Neonicotinoids
In two rounds of testing—the first in January and the second in May of 2015—nearly all Congressional cafeteria food tested positive for one or more neonicotinoid insecticide residues. Sixty out of a total of 66 food samples, or 91%, tested positive for the chemicals. Forty-seven (or 71%) of the foods had two or more neonicotinoids. “These pesticides infiltrate the produce itself and cannot be removed by washing or peeling,” said Cynthia Palmer, Director of Pesticides Science and Regulation for ABC. “We were surprised to find that most foods contained multiple neonicotinoids, with as many as five in samples of fresh-squeezed orange juice and green bell pepper,” she added.

All of the 38 food samples collected in January contained neonicotinoid residues. In addition to the five neonicotinoids found in the orange juice, 10 food samples (26%) contained four distinct neonicotinoid insecticides, nine (24%) had three neonicotinoids, and eight (21%) had two neonicotinoids. The remaining 10 foods (26%) each had a single neonicotinoid detection.
The May round of testing revealed neonicotinoids in 22 out of 28 food samples (79%), including the five types in bell pepper. Four foods (14%) had four, six foods (21%) had three, eight foods (29%) had two neonicotinoids, and three foods (11%) had one.
“It is almost impossible to avoid eating foods that are contaminated with neonicotinoids in the cafeterias on Capitol Hill. We can reasonably assume that the likelihood for humans to be exposed to neonicotinoids through dietary intakes is the same as for birds, bees, and other pollinators in the environment,” said Chensheng Alex Lu, Associate Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Neonicotinoids Ubiquitous in Food Supply
Cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, and golden delicious apples stood out as the samples with the highest levels of neonicotinoid residues. This result is consistent with the USDA Pesticide Data Program 2013 Annual Summary that showed high residues associated with apple juice and summer squash.
“The neonicotinoid story is one of marketing success overruling common sense, to the detriment of our ecosystems,” said Palmer. “Today’s report brings the neonicotinoids’ persistence and ubiquity home to Congress—those with the power to fix pesticide regulations.”

Neonicotinoids are used as sprays and soil drenches on fruit and vegetable crops, but their presence on fresh produce represents only a small fraction of the total pounds applied in the U.S. Neonicotinoids also are used as seed coatings on hundreds of millions of acres of commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, and sunflowers, even though many scientists question their capacity to increase yields.

Neonicotinoids as a Driver in Pollinator Declines
There is mounting evidence that neonicotinoids are a primary driver in the bee population declines of the past decade. As for birds, as ABC reported in 2013, a single seed treated with neonicotinoids is enough to kill a songbird. And the elevated levels of these chemicals in many surface waters are already high enough to kill the aquatic invertebrate life on which so many birds, bats, and other pollinators depend.
Beneficial terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms are also killed by the neonicotinoids at extremely low doses. The insecticides are killing the diverse wildlife that pollinates our crops and controls our pests for free.

Implications for Human Health
The human health impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides need further research. While none of the levels of neonicotinoid residues in the foods sampled in this study exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s current “reference dose” (the dose EPA considers acceptable based on laboratory studies), clinical research from Japan indicates that adverse effects may be observed at doses lower than EPA’s reference doses.

According to the EPA, neonicotinoids can be damaging to the nervous systems of mammals and are also associated with liver, kidney, thyroid, testicular, and immune system effects. Thiacloprid, one common neonicotinoid, has been designated as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” with thyroid tumors observed in male rats, uterine tumors in rats, and ovarian tumors in mice.

Study Design
ABC teamed with scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to test 66 food samples from Congressional dining halls. The researchers evaluated 38 food samples in January 2015 and 28 in May 2015. Roughly half of the samples were purchased from the House Longworth Cafeteria and half from Senate Dirksen Cafeteria, in addition to samples of strawberry topping from the Dirksen frozen yogurt bar.
Food samples were analyzed for seven distinct neonicotinoid insecticides: acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam. Sample analysis took place at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health located in Boston, Massachusetts, under the direction of Dr. Chensheng Alex Lu and Dr. Lin Tao.

Natil Strategy- EPA metrics

Reporting Bee Kills

We need beekeepers to report their honey bee losses, even if they are unsure how to report it. If sixty of your hives experienced queen supercedure all at the same time: report it. If your hives were thriving, making honey two weeks ago, and now only house bees and a queen remain: report it. If the neighboring farmer sprayed his blooming soybeans with chlorpyrifos in the middle of the day yesterday, and today you have piles of dead bees in front of your hives, as does the beekeeper on the other side of the farm: report it. If the County weed eradication program is spraying your roadside, and you stand in front of their truck asking them to stop, and they turn the sprayer on you (yes, this happened to a beekeeper): REPORT IT! Don’t wait six months to report pesticide incidents to you, to your honey bees. We need the information: report it.
Your honey bees are important. My honey bees are important. However, my bees live in a residential area with a wooded area and vacant, weed filled city lots on which to forage. Your bees may be trucked around the county pollinating one-third of our food. What happens to our bees is important, reflecting the pests, pathogens, pesticides, and forage issues affecting our bees. Check out our map of reported bee kills from pesticides . We need beekeepers to report their losses. Talk amongst ourselves is comforting. Filed reports of bee losses moves it out of “anecdotal,” and into data that cannot be ignored. To learn how to report bee losses go to http://pollinatorstewardship.org/?page_id=3292.
“Minimize the use of pesticides toxic to pollinators or that will remove useful floral resources is best for conserving local pollinators. When use of pesticides harmful to pollinators cannot be avoided, managers should engage in practices that reduce exposure to pollinators. Determine the types of pollinators in the project area and their vulnerability to pesticides, taking into consideration pesticide chemistry, toxicity, and mode of action, can lead to more informed pesticide application.” National Strategy BMPs To Protect Pollinators When Taking Management Actions, Pollinator-friendly best management Practices for Federal Lands, Draft, May 11, 2015, pg. 26



Survey of Glyphosate Residues in Honey, Corn and Soy Products
Fernando Rubio, Emily Guo and Lisa Kamp
Abraxis, LLC, 54 Steam whistle Drive, Warminster, PA 18974, USA Boston University, 273 Babcock Street, Boston, MA 02446, USA

Samples of honey (sixty nine), pancake and corn syrup (twenty six), soy sauce (twenty eight), soy milk (eleven), and tofu (twenty) purchased in the Philadelphia, US metropolitan area were analyzed for glyphosate residue using ELISA. The limit of quantification (LOQ) and range of the method were determined for honey, pancake syrup, and corn syrup to be 15 to 800 ppb; soy sauce, soy milk, and tofu 75 to 4,000 ppb. Glyphosate residues above the limit of quantification were not found in pancake and corn syrup, soy milk, and tofu. Of the sixty-nine honey samples analyzed, forty-one samples, or fifty-nine percent (59%), had glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ (15 ppb), with a concentration range between 17 and 163 ppb and a mean of 64 ppb. Eleven of the tested honey samples were organic; five of the organic honey samples, or forty-five percent (45%), contained glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ, with a range of 26 to 93 ppb and a mean of 50 ppb. Of the fifty-eight non-organic honey samples, tthirty-six samples, or sixty-two percent (62%), contained glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ, with a range of 17 to 163 ppb and a mean of 66 ppb. In addition to comparison of production method (organic vs. conventional), the honey results were evaluated according to pollen source and by country of origin, grouped by GMO usage (prohibited, limited, or permitted). Glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ (75 ppb) were also found in ten of the twenty-eight soy sauce samples evaluated (36%), with a concentration range between 88 and 564 ppb and a mean of 242 ppb; all organic soy sauce samples tested were below the method LOQ.

“When we speak of the “environment”, what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it.”
Francis (2015, May 24). Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Encyclical Letter]. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html, Page 41

Neonicotinoid insecticide travels through a soil food chain, disrupting biological control of non-target pests and decreasing soya bean yield
Margaret R. Douglas, Jason R. Rohr and John F. Tooker, Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, 101 Merkle Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA; 2Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave., SCA 110, Tampa, FL 33620, USA; and Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, 113 Merkle Laboratory, University
Park, PA 16802, USA

1. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides world-wide, but their fate in the environment remains unclear, as does their potential to influence non-target species and the roles they play in agroecosystems.
2. We investigated in laboratory and field studies the influence of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, applied as a coating to soya bean seeds, on interactions among soya beans, nontarget molluscan herbivores and their insect predators.
3. In the laboratory, the pest slug Deroceras reticulatum was unaffected by thiamethoxam,
but transmitted the toxin to predaceous beetles (Chlaenius tricolor), impairing or killing >60%.
4. In the field, thiamethoxam-based seed treatments depressed activity–density of arthropod predators, thereby relaxing predation of slugs and reducing soya bean densities by 19% and yield by 5%.
5. Neonicotinoid residue analyses revealed that insecticide concentrations declined through the food chain, but levels in field-collected slugs (up to 500 ng g_1) were still high enough to harm insect predators.
6. Synthesis and applications. Our findings reveal a previously unconsidered ecological pathway through which neonicotinoid use can unintentionally reduce biological control and crop yield. Trophic transfer of neonicotinoids challenges the notion that seed-applied toxins precisely target herbivorous pests and highlights the need to consider predatory arthropods and soil communities in neonicotinoid risk assessment and stewardship.
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