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Study Shows Some Pesticides More Bee-Safe Than Others, But Are Any Pesticides Eco-Friendly?
A study published Thursday in Current Biology is being hailed in a University of Exeter press release as a major "breakthrough" in developing bee-friendly insecticides. But some environmentalists think the research is asking the wrong questions to begin with.
"We need to find a way to change our agricultural model, and switch to non-chemical pest control methods that work with nature. These techniques exist and are effective," Tyrell told DW.
The study, conducted by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG, isolated the enzymes in bees that determine their sensitivity to different neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are controversial pesticides that have been restricted in the EU since 2013 due to their impact on bee populations.
While previous research had indicated that bees responded better to certain neonicotinoids because they could metabolize them faster, the researchers were able to isolate the subfamily of enzymes called cytochrome P450 responsible for breaking down neonicotinoids.
The subfamily, called CYP9Q, metabolizes thiacloprid well and imidacloprid poorly, the study found.
University of Exeter research-team-leader Chriss Bass hoped the findings would help develop bee-safe pesticides.
"Identifying these key enzymes provides valuable tools to screen new pesticides early in their development to see if bees can break them down," he said in the University of Exeter press release.
However, it should be noted that Bayer, which manufactures neonicotinoids, helped fund the study, and Bass seemed almost more concerned with the manufacturer's bottom line than he did with the health of the bees.
"It can take a decade and $260 million to develop a single pesticide, so this knowledge can help us avoid wasting time and money on pesticides that will end up with substantial use restrictions due to intrinsic bee toxicity," he wrote.
Just because bees can break down thiacloprid doesn't mean it's entirely healthy for them to do so, Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex told DW. He pointed to research he conducted in 2017 showing the pesticide did hurt bumblebee colonies.
"Despite the lower toxicity to bees compared to some other neonicotinoid pesticides, there is evidence that thiacloprid use does harm bumblebee nests under field conditions," he told DW. "It is less toxic, but applied at a much higher rate."
However, Lund University researcher Maj Rundlöf, who published a 2015 study showing neonicotinoids hurt bee populations, said it was helpful to distinguish between more and less harmful products.
"All neonicotinoids are not the same," she told ScienceNews. "It's a bit unrealistic to damn a whole group of pesticides."
But Tyrell's point, that even insecticides that take out only their target can have disastrous consequences for ecosystems, was born out by the results of two recent French studies reported by The Guardian Tuesday. The studies found that in, the past decade and a half, populations of once-common bird species like the Eurasian skylark and ortolan bunting had declined by at least one third in the French countryside. Researchers hypothesized that the decline is likely due to pesticides that kill the insects birds depend on for food.
"There are hardly any insects left, that's the number one problem," Vincent Bretagnolle, an ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies in Chize, told The Guardian.
- California Court Ruling Ends Decades of State Pesticide Spraying ›
- EU-Wide Ban on Bee-Harming Pesticides Likely After Major Review ›
- Food Retailers Fail to Protect Bees From Toxic Pesticides ›
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By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated: