Pesticides Found On “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold At Garden Centers

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“Here’s just another reason to start your plants from seeds and cuttings and bring them on yourself rather than buy from Garden Centers and Supermarkets. You could always buy them from a local guy you know and trust and keep the money in the community. Also buying organic certified plants may reduce your chances of pesticide exposure for you and the wildlife.”

Gardeners Beware (2014): Bee-toxic pesticides found in “bee-friendly plants sold at garden centers across the U.S. and Canada

Many “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a study released today by Friends of the Earth and allies.

The study, Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright assuming comparable concentrations are present in the flowers’ pollen and nectar. Further, 40 percent of the positive samples contained two or more neonics.

The study is a larger follow up to a first-of-its-kind pilot study released by Friends of the Earth last August. The new study expanded the number of samples and number of locations where plants were purchased, and also assessed the distribution of neonic pesticides between flowers and the rest of the plant.

“The high percentage of contaminated plants and their neonicotinoid concentrations suggest that this problem continues to be widespread,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Food & Technology program at Friends of the Earth-U.S. “Most gardeners have no idea that their gardens may be a source of harm to bees. We’re calling on retailers to get neonicotinoid pesticides out of their plants and off their shelves as soon as possible. Until then, gardeners should buy organic plants to ensure the safety of bees.”

Continue reading “Pesticides Found On “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold At Garden Centers”

Our Food System Affects Biodiversity: Do We Want Monocultures?

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On the International Day of Biological Diversity, Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo exhorts us to move away from our current farming system

On today’s United Nations biodiversity day, we are being asked to focus on small islands and their unique ecology and fragility in times of globally pervasive threats such as climate change.

But, the whole planet is a small island in the vast sea of space, capable of producing food for all as a consequence of rich biodiversity. That diversity is under threat, our actions can strengthen it or weaken it. Our agriculture systems can help mitigate climate change and feed us, or they can accelerate the change and contribute to hunger.

The food system we choose has a direct impact on which type of world we will have. It’s the difference between a field that hums and is robust with life, or one which is dusty, dry and dead. It’s the difference between a place where ecological farming has been used or where a cocktail of industrial chemicals has soaked into the soil where the same crop is grown, decade after decade.

Our current food and farming system is creating more and more of these dry, dead ends. It is agriculture characterised by three things: the industrial-sized growing of a single plant, or “monoculture”, genetically engineered crops, and repeated toxic chemical infusions of pesticides and the application of synthetic fertilisers. All of these harm people and the farming ecosystems they depend on.
Continue reading “Our Food System Affects Biodiversity: Do We Want Monocultures?”

Organic Growers Have 30% More Wildlife Species (Study)

ImagePollinators among chief beneficiaries of organic farming, study shows.

Organic farms are home to around 30 per cent more wildlife species than conventional farms, a meta-analysis of nearly 100 studies by researchers form the University of Oxford and from Sweden and Switzerland has found.

“This result has been robust over the last 30 years of published studies and shows no sign of diminishing,” they concluded.

They also noted: “The effect size varies with the organism group and crop studied, and is greater in landscapes with higher land-use intensity,” while the effect was also smaller in orchards and vegetable fields than on arable land.

But pollinating insects showed an even more marked benefit from organic practices, with species numbers around 50 per cent higher.
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Welcoming the study, Soil Association head of policy Emma Hockridge said: “There is a clear solution for pollinators with a known outcome – support organic farming and we can have 50 per cent more species of pollinators in our countryside.

“Yet in return for this, and many other benefits, UK organic farmers currently receive the lowest payments across the whole of the EU. We are urging the Government to redress this balance and ensure organic farmers in the UK are adequately supported in the new Common Agricultural Policy.”

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http://www.hortweek.com/Edibles/article/1230119/pollinators-among-chief-beneficiaries-organic-farming-study-shows/?DCMP=EMC-CONHorticulture%20Week%20Breakfast%20Briefing%20bulletin

UK/EU Facing Food Security Catastrophe Due To Honeybee Shortages

This report by the University of Reading highlights that the preservation of the honeybee is of the utmost importance. Europe has 13.4 million too few honeybee colonies to properly pollinate its crops. Demand for insect pollination is growing five times as fast as the number of honeybee colonies across Europe as farmers grow more insect-pollinated oil crops, such as oilseed rape and sunflowers and also fruit.

“We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators through habitat protection, agricultural policy and farming methods, or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a potential food security crisis.” – Professor Simon Potts

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Direct Link to Uni -report: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140109-pr-europe-short-of-13m-honeybee-colonies.aspx

It also follows a two-year ban implemented in December across the European Union on insecticides that were linked to the serious decline of bees. These insecticides are said to potentially be a contributing factor in the CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) that Hives have been experiencing over the last 5 years, the full causes of which are still yet unknown. I’ll be reporting more on CCD in future posts.

It sounds as though every little helps right now for the Bee populations so if you needed an excuse to plant bee friendly plants, maybe some native wild flowers then here it is.

Maybe you could go that step further and have a Bubblebee Hive or even keep some Honeybee’s and gain a yield in exchange for a lovely home. I plan to post more on that later too.