Pesticide Manufacturers Own Tests Reveal Serious Harm To Honeybees 

Unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers show their products cause serious harm to honeybees at high levels, leading to calls from senior scientists for the companies to end the secrecy which cloaks much of their research.
The research, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request.
Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and there is clear scientific evidence that they harm bees at the levels found in fields, though only a little to date showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies. Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013, despite UK opposition.
Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and the use of pesticides.
The newly revealed studies show Syngenta’s thiamethoxam and Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed colonies at high doses, but did not find significant effects below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively. Such levels can sometimes be found in fields but concentrations are usually below 10ppb.

Continue reading “Pesticide Manufacturers Own Tests Reveal Serious Harm To Honeybees “

A Pesticide Banned, or Not, Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities

atrazine

Syngenta, a Swiss chemicals company, produces one of America’s most popular herbicides. It is called atrazine, and 73.7 million pounds of the chemical compound were applied in the United States in 2013. It was used on more than half of all corn crops, two-thirds of sorghum and up to 90 percent of sugar cane.

But Syngenta cannot sell atrazine to farms in its own backyard. The weed killer is banned as a pesticide in the European Union as well as in Switzerland over concerns that it is a groundwater contaminant. Syngenta, however, did not get the memo.

Even though the European Union banned atrazine over a decade ago, the company has long insisted that the pesticide was not banned. On one corporate website, Syngenta points to “anti-atrazine activists” who “claim that ‘atrazine’ is banned in the European Union. This is patently false.”

Another Syngenta-backed site, “Saving the Oasis,” also blames “anti-atrazine activists.” And another such site, AGSense, says, “We’ve known it all along, and now you know it too: Atrazine is not banned in the European Union.”

The company has repeated its assertion to reporters.

“It is not banned,” Ann Bryan, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email, though she acknowledged that “countries in the E.U. currently do not use atrazine.”

Companies are perhaps understandably sensitive about revealing too much about the gulf that exists between American and European regulation of pesticides and other chemicals.

Generally speaking, the European approach incorporates the so-called precautionary principle and requires companies to establish that new chemicals are safe before they are put on the market. The American approach puts the onus on regulators to show some evidence of danger before taking action against new chemicals.

Scores of chemicals that are banned or tightly restricted in the European Union are allowed in the United States. One recent analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law, a Washington-based advocacy group, found 82 instances of pesticides allowed in the United States but barred or restricted in Europe.

This disparity can make selling products on one side of the Atlantic that are banned on the other uncomfortable, though few companies have tried a semantic maneuver quite like Syngenta’s.

The use of atrazine as a herbicide/pesticide is banned in the E.U.,” Mikko Vaananen, a spokesman for the European Chemicals Agency, said in an email, adding that it was still allowed as an intermediate substance used in industry to create new chemicals. European Union government documents, from formal filings to informal newsletters, also use the term “banned.”

Continue reading “A Pesticide Banned, or Not, Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities”

Environment Groups Condemn Plans To Plant RoundUp Ready GM Crops In England

Image

Joint press release: GeneWatch UK, Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze, Soil Association (Monday 10th March 2014)

Environment groups today wrote to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to condemn Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s support for growing GM crops in Britain (1). Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, GeneWatch UK, GM Freeze and the Soil Association expressed concerns that controversial RoundUp Ready GM crops might be planted in England as early as Spring 2015, leading to harm to the environment.

At the EU’s March Environment Council meeting, Paterson supported a proposal which would fast-track GM crops for commercial cultivation in pro-GM countries, whilst allowing anti-GM countries to opt out (2). The first GM crops in the pipeline for approval that are likely to be grown in England are Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready GM maize NK603 and Syngenta’s GA21. These crops are genetically engineered to withstand blanket spraying with the weedkiller glyphosate (brand name RoundUp). Monsanto has not withdrawn its application to plant NK603 in the EU, despite announcing in July 2013 that it would do so (3).

Previous plans to grow herbicide-tolerant GM crops commercially in the UK were abandoned in 2004, following the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs), which showed that blanket spraying with weedkillers destroys important habitats for birds, butterflies and other wildlife (4). These concerns have been borne out in reality in the United States, where widespread planting of RoundUp Ready crops has led to a drastic decline in numbers of the iconic Monarch butterfly, due to the destruction of the milkweed habitat where they lay their eggs (5). ‘Superweeds’ which have evolved resistance to RoundUp  adversely affected nearly half of US farms surveyed in 2013, leading to major economic and environmental problems as spraying with other more toxic weedkillers has increased in response (6). Monopoly control over the seed supply, which is patented, has also led to major seed price hikes for farmers.

“Monsanto and other GM companies are desperate to push their GM crops into other countries before the devastating impacts on wildlife and farming destroy existing markets” said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, “The Government should not be caving in to commercial lobbying and putting British birds and butterflies at risk”.

“The Soil Association hope that David Cameron does not want to be remembered as the Prime Minister responsible for the beginning of the end of organic farming in England.  If GM crops spread, GM contamination will make organic farming impossible, and our growing organic market will have to be supplied with imported food”, said Peter Melchett, Soil Association Policy Director.

“British consumers don’t want to eat GM food and both Scottish and Welsh governments have made it clear they are opposed to GM crops. So why are our representatives in Westminster doing their level best to hand over control of our food and our natural environment to big business?” said Liz O’Neill, Director of GM Freeze.

“Ten years ago the UK Government reviewed the scientific, environmental and economic impacts of GM crops and food, and concluded they offered little benefit to the UK. Despite much huffing and puffing from its advocates, little has changed and the propositions on offer from the biotech industry are largely the same as they were. But the UK Government is so in thrall to industry hype that they want to deconstruct the EU single market – previously the only thing about Europe they wanted to keep – in order to grow GM crops that nobody wants”, said Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist, Greenpeace UK.

LINK: http://www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als[cid]=492860&als[itemid]=574352