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Germany to Ban Glyphosate From End of 2023

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Germany to Ban Glyphosate From End of 2023
On Oct. 1, 2017, GLOBAL 2000 projected the names of all Austrians who signed the European Citizens' Initiative "Stop Gylphosat" on the façade of the Chancellery. GLOBAL 2000 / Christopher Glanzl

Use of glyphosate will be banned in Germany from the end of 2023, after a phased effort to reduce its application by farmers.


The ban, agreed by the Cabinet on Wednesday, is part of an insect conservation program from Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.

It includes a "systematic reduction strategy," which would initially prohibit use of the chemical in domestic gardens and allotments, and on the edge of farmers' fields.

Germany's move comes after lawmakers in Austria passed a bill banning all use of the weedkiller, making the country the first to do so. Some 20 French mayors banned it from their municipalities last month — in defiance of their national government.

Glyphosate — also the subject of legal claims over an alleged link with cancer — was developed by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup.

The chemical is now out of patent and is marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups. They include Dow Agrosciences and Germany's BASF.

Worries about the chemical's safety came to light when a World Health Organization agency report concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer.

The German chemical giant Bayer — which acquired Monsanto last year in a mammoth $62.5 billion deal — says studies and regulators have deemed glyphosate and Roundup safe for human use.

However, some 18,000 people have brought legal action against the firm since the takeover. They claim that the use of glyphosate has caused them to develop various types of cancer. What do EU countries think?

The chemical has also been linked with a decline in pollinating insect species like bees and butterflies.

Views over glyphosate use in the EU and how to proceed are divided by country, as well as by branch of the bloc.

In October 2017 the European Parliament approved a nonbinding resolution to ban the chemical's use by 2022.

However, the law-making executive branch of the EU, the Commission, voted a few months later to extend the glyphosate license for another five years, though the vote revealed divisions in the bloc.

France voted against the 2017 extension, and President Emmanuel Macron has pushed for phasing out glyphosate in the coming years. Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Malta also voted against the extension.

Germany supported the extension, though roughly one year later the country introduced stricter national regulations for pesticides. The Czech Republic has also announced it will limit its use.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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