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Archive for the ‘Pesticides’ Category

Switzerland to vote on pesticide ban ‘in 3 years’

 Switz ban
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption: Farmers in Switzerland may have to end their use of synthetic pesticides

Swiss citizens will get the chance to vote on a complete ban on the use of synthetic pesticides after campaigners secured enough signatures to force a referendum.

More than 100,000 Swiss signed the call for a ban that would apply to all farmers, industries and imported foods.

If the vote is passed, Switzerland would become only the second country after Bhutan to implement a full ban.

But it could be at least three years before voters go to the poll.

Over the past 12 months, the future use of pesticides has been a hotly debated topic across Europe.

After months of deadlock, the EU re-approved the widely used weedkiller, glyphosate, for five years. France though says it aims to ban the chemical in the country within three years.

Just a few weeks ago, the EU agreed a near total ban on the use of neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.

The Swiss initiative would go much further than the handful of towns and regions around the world that have already banned all synthetic pesticides. It would also be of greater global significance than the ban imposed by Bhutan in 2013, as Switzerland is the home of the world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer, Syngenta.

The formal petition will be presented to the Federal Chancellery in Bern on 25 May.

Syn
Image copyright Courtesy of Syngenta
Image caption The world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer has its home in Switzerland

“At the beginning it started rather slowly, but then it gathered a lot of support especially from young people and then it gathered momentum and in the end we had plenty of signatures,” said Antoinette Gilson who’s with a group of Swiss citizens called future3 that are pushing for the ban.

The details of the signatures will be checked and transferred to the Federal Council, which is the Swiss federal cabinet. They have one year to give recommendations to parliament. The legislators then have two further years to accept the initiative and schedule a vote, or to come up with a counter initiative that could also feature on the ballot.

If passed, all synthetic pesticides would be phased out over a period of 10 years.

“To not use any pesticides will trigger a complete change in agricultural practices,” said Antoinette Gilson.

“It might be difficult to go through, but in Switzerland already around 13% of farmers are organic. I talk to a lot of them and I have not met one who has regretted giving up pesticides.”

The rules would also apply to imports which could have significant impacts on neighbouring countries as Switzerland imports almost 500kg of food per head of population, according to figures from the Federal Customs Administration.

Farmers and industry representatives are dismissive of the idea of the referendum, saying that it is too extreme and will not gain popular support.

“The initiative is too radical and overshoots the goal,” said Anna Bozzi from Science Industries Switzerland in a statement.

“Plant protection products are indispensable to ward off diseases and pests. A general ban would affect tremendously the yields as well as the quality of the agricultural products in Switzerland. The import ban would thwart supply and drive up prices.”

Supporters of the initiative think that if the Switzerland vote is eventually carried, it will have knock-on effects for others.

“I am convinced that other countries may follow suit,” said Prof Edward Mitchell from the University of Neuchâtel.

“Switzerland with its direct democracy system is somewhat different from other countries, making such a change perhaps more likely in the short term.

“This puts us in a privileged position to act proactively rather than in response to government actions, and with this goes a responsibility to do so.

“This is my personal opinion and it is likely that many Swiss citizens also think this.”

 

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Guardian

Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis

Analysis from EU’s scientific risk assessors finds neonicotinoids pose a serious danger to all bees, making total field ban highly likely

Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees.
Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AP

The world’s most widely used insecticides pose a serious danger to both honeybees and wild bees, according to a major new assessment from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors.

The conclusion, based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that the neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month.

The report from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published on Wednesday, found that the risk to bees varied depending on the crop and exposure route, but that “for all the outdoor uses, there was at least one aspect of the assessment indicating a high risk.” Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees, such as damaging memory and reducing queen numbers.

Jose Tarazona, head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, said: “The availability of such a substantial amount of data has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions. There is variability in the conclusions [and] some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.”

The Efsa assessment includes bumblebees and solitary bees for the first time. It also identified that high risk to bees comes not from neonicotinoid use on non-flowering crops such as wheat, but from wider contamination of the soil and water which leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids.

The assessment was welcomed by many scientists and environmentalists. “This is an important announcement that most uses of neonicotinoids are a risk to all bee species,” said Prof Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee, UK. “The greatest risk to bees is from chronic exposure due to its persistence.” Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said: “This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use across Europe”.

“We have been playing Russian roulette with the future of our bees for far too long,” said Sandra Bell at Friends of the Earth. “EU countries must now back a tougher ban.” Several nations had been waiting for the Efsa report before deciding their position.

However, a spokesman for Syngenta, a neonicotinoid manufacturer, said: “Efsa sadly continues to rely on a [bee risk guidance] document that is overly conservative, extremely impractical and would lead to a ban of most if not all insecticides, including organic products.”

Matt Shardlow, at charity Buglife, said the risk guidance document should be urgently implemented to prevent another pesticide “blunder”. He said: “It is a tragedy that our bees, moths, butterflies and flies have been hammered by these toxins for over 15 years.”

In March 2017, the Guardian revealed draft regulations from the European commission which would ban neonicotinoids from all fields across Europe, citing “high acute risks to bees”. The chemicals could still be used in closed greenhouses.

Efsa’s first assessment in January 2013 found “unacceptable” risks to bees from neonicotinoids and paved the way for the partial EU ban which was passed in April 2013. It banned the use of the three main neonicotinoids on flowering crops, principally oilseed rape, as they were seen as most attractive to bees.

Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, destruction of flower-rich habitat and, increasingly, the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

There has been strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees for some years but this has strengthened in the last year recently to show damage to colonies of bees. Other research has also revealed that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, prompting warnings of “ecological armageddon”.

In November, environment secretary Michael Gove overturned the UK’s previous opposition to tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids. “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” Gove told the Guardian. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

The environment department’s chief scientist, Prof Ian Boyd, warned in September that the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false. This followed other highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.

The world’s most widely used insecticides pose a serious danger to both honeybees and wild bees, according to a major new assessment from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors.

The conclusion, based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that the neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month.

 

 

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Delta f perss

cotton bollworm

Cotton diseases and insect control as resistance appears

Growers will have to make some difficult decisions related to foliar diseases and Bt-resistant worm pests.

Brad Robb | Jan 25, 2018

Mid-South cotton growers face several tough decisions for 2018 as they deal with hard-to-control diseases and the increasingly difficult problem of Bt-resistant worm pests.

Tucker Miller, president, Miller Entomological Service Inc., Drew, Ms., speaking Thursday at the National Conservation Systems Conferences in Memphis, Tn., said growers will need to look closely at varieties as well as other management options.

Miller, a frequent speaker at the conference, spoke to a packed meeting room about his experience over the last several years with bacterial blight and target leaf spot, potassium-associated foliar diseases. “Growers are going to need to make several important variety selection decisions this coming season, and those decisions need to be made based on good information,” says Miller. “They’ll need a variety that is resistant to bacterial blight and, because there is no variety that provides resistance to target leaf spot, they’ll have to consider other management options to try to control its level and to lessen the effect or impact of the leaf disease.”

Options may include decreasing seeding rates to produce a thinner stand, aggressive Pix management, possibly growing skip row cotton, or selecting a variety or row configuration that lends itself to a more open canopy to help minimize the spread of target leaf spot. “Growers might also try to manage this disease with more timely irrigation methods or even less irrigation,” says Miller. “Leaf shed was so bad in many parts of the fields I worked, if you squatted and looked down the row, you could see a rabbit two-hundred yards away.”

The Mid-South is supposedly in the low to medium risk range of the country for this problem, but Miller questions those range boundaries. Several factors, including irrigation and over-fertilization of nitrogen, may be exacerbating the problem. “It’s hard to get farmers to cut back to 80 or 90 units of nitrogen when they’re accustomed to putting out 120, and they don’t want to run out,” says Miller. “Fungicides are another option, but at $40 an acre, if you spray it twice, I just don’t know if it’s a cost effective application.”

Fungicide

Based on one data set Miller received from 2016 target spot research, a fungicide application to control the disease may provide a significant yield increase only 20 percent of the time. “It’s difficult for me to suggest an application of fungicide at first or second bloom with an 80 percent chance it won’t help,” says Miller.

Miller also talked frankly about the resistant worm (heliothis) problems many growers across the Mid-South and Southeast experienced last year. According to Miller, the problem started with a generation of worms exposed to Bt corn with the two identical proteins found in Bollgard ll or WideStrike ll cotton varieties. “When worms go through a generation and come out of corn then move to cotton, they’re exposed to the same proteins twice, but the second time, they’re surviving,” says Miller.

Dried bloom tags were everywhere when Miller scouted some Bt fields last year. At one point of the season, a report to one of his grower customers listed a high-dollar combination shot of Besiege, Acephate and Pix. “I recommended Pix to control plant growth, Acephate for plant bugs and Besiege for worms on July 16, and by July 29, we had to do it again in one field of Bollgard ll cotton,” says Miller.

One problem researchers across the board are concern about is how long the third protein – VIP—will remain viable if the same scenario presents itself once growers begin planting corn and cotton with the VIP protein. “It’s going to take some careful management for sure,” says Miller.

The 21st Annual National Conservation Systems Conferences will likely set a new record. Growers, Extension specialists, and agricultural researchers covering many disciplines present over 120 presentations over the day-and-a-half conference.

 

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Via PestNet

https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-W3WQKKF

 Sections

Scientists urge action against insect decline

Scientists from four different institutes and nationalities came to Brussels on Tuesday, 7 November. [Pollinis]

A recent study showed a 75% decline in Germany’s insect population over a period of almost 30 years but the European Crop Protection Association (representing pesticide companies Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer) told EURACTIV.com that the study did not identify the cause of the decline, which could therefore not be attributable to agriculture.

But Professor Hans De Kroon, one of the authors of the study, countered that.

“Knowing the exact cause is crucial to reversing this situation. But not knowing the exact cause should not be an excuse to do nothing,” he said during a debate hosted by MEP Eric Andrieu (France, S&D) and organised by French NGO Pollinis in the European Parliament on Tuesday (7 November).

Environmentalists call for pesticide ban as study shows extent of insect decline

Scientists have raised the alarm after a study 27 years in the making found the biomass of flying insects in nature protected areas has declined by more than 75% since 1990. The causes of the decline are not fully understood.

Scientific consensus

Neonicotinoids are the most used class of pesticides in the world and act on insects’ nervous systems. They can be sprayed on leaves but the most common use is seed-coating, used as a preemptive measure against pests. But when seeds are pre-coated in neonicotinoids, the plant only absorbs 2 to 20% – the rest is dispersed in the environment.

Research shows neonicotinoids have an impact the fertility of bees as well as bees’ weight and their reproductive system, reducing total population numbers, argued Peter Neumann,  chair of the Institute of Bee Health in Bern University, and author of a 2015 EASAC report which put the costs of the loss of pollination in Europe at €14.6 billion.

Neonics also have an impact on natural predators, including spiders and birds – who act as a form of natural pest-control, valued €91 billion annually worldwide – and on micro-organisms that ensure soil fertility (€22.75 billion).

Alternatives for farmers

While the data prompts to action, the scientist recognised there is a need for caution as well.

“We need to be fully aware of the consequences of a ban – what are the alternatives for farmers of an EU ban? Are they going to be reimbursed for crop loss, or can they be provided alternative molecules that target only pests?” Neuman asked.

He said “we should get over this fear of GMOs”, largely based on a lack of understanding, and invest in research which could provide an answer to pest management.

But GMOs are probably the largest EU taboo, and for the time being, farmers say a ban would leave them with less effective and more polluting alternatives.

Maize farmers on glyphosate and neonicotinoids: ‘We need to protect science’

As member states are due to vote on two key dossiers, maize farmers claim that EU regulation restricting access to plant protection products and plant genetics has reduced their competitiveness worldwide and that such regulation is not based on science.

But Jean-Marc Bonmatin, a scientist with the French National Research Committee CNRS said solutions such as integrated pest-control management, where pesticides are only used as a last resort, already exist.

And even when farmers lose their crops to pests, the Italian maize farmers’ experience shows it is less costly to insure (€3,50/ha) than to pre-emptively treat the crops with neonicotinoids (€40/ha).

An EU-wide ban

In Europe, Italy banned neonicotinoid seed treatment in 2008, citing concerns for pollinators.

France will ban neonicotinoids from September 2018, although some crops lacking alternatives will be exempted until 2020.

Following an assessment by the European Food Safety Agency EFSA in 2013 which identified “high risk to bees”, the European Commission imposed a partial ban on three neonicotinoid molecules on some crops.

But Fabio Sgolastra, a researcher at the University of Bologna and member of EFSA’s Working Group For Bee Risk Assessment, thinks this was not sufficient: “The risk is not negligible. The partial ban is not in line with science.”

EFSA just recently concluded a new risk-assessment including 100 more studies that have been published since 2013, which have confirmed the threat posed by neonicotinoids to bees and other pollinators.

The Commission will review EFSA’s risk assessment and submit a proposal to ban all uses of neonicotinoids except in greenhouses, which member states will have to vote on by the end of the month.

Justice for bees: French court to look at pesticide ban

An environmental organisation has filed a lawsuit to ban sulfoxaflor, a pesticide that has fallen through the cracks of the ban on neonicotinoids. EURACTIV France reports.

xssmmdlg

 

 

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Plantwise_Logo

Suspected pesticide poisoning in India highlights importance of PPE

On 5th October, the BBC reported that at least 50 farmers have died in the western state of Maharashtra, India, since July, due to suspected accidental pesticide poisoning (see the full article on the BBC website).

Nineteen of these deaths were reported from Yavatmal district, a major cotton growing area, where farmers use a variety of cotton which is meant to be resistant to bollworms. However, this year, despite use of this variety, crop damage caused by bollworm has been highly significant, leading to an increase in the use of pesticides.

Without the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, overalls, goggles, boots and a mask, pesticides can be extremely harmful, causing symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness, respiratory problems, visual impairment and disorientation.

How can we help?

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank hosts variety of relevant resources that you may find useful, such as a factsheet on reducing exposure the agrochemicals, written by the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados, which includes the following management information:

  • Spray at cool times of the day (evening or morning) so that wearing protective equipment is bearable in the heat.
  • The concentrated chemical is especially hazardous and additional equipment may be required when handling these chemicals.
  • Wear a specially produced spray suit or at least a long-sleeved shirt and full length pants.
    • Wear long rubber gloves and rubber boots
    • Your pants should go on the outside of the boots
    • Your sleeves should be on the inside of the gloves
    • Wear a hat to keep the chemical out of your hair
    • Wear a mask, preferably with a filter; if not available, use a bandanna (A bandanna may not give good protection and could make you think you are protected when you are not)
    • Wear protective glasses/sunglasses
  • Maintain the spraying equipment and check for leaks, replace the filter in the mask often. Make sure the mask is suitable for agrochemicals use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We believe it is  important to take an Integrated Pest Management approach to controlling pests, which improves effectiveness and is environmentally sensitive. For advice on how to prevent, monitor and control bollworm on cotton using non-chemical control, please see our cotton bollworm green list which mentions practices such as reducing planting density, using trap crops and using natural enemies.

There is also a pest management decision guide specific to India, which emphasises non-chemical cotton bollworm management practices, and details pesticides that can be used along with their restriction information.

When developing and delivering content for farmers, we take the use of PPE very seriously, which is why we ensure that it is included in plant doctor training and highlighted in our content on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

If you would like to raise awareness of the importance of wearing protective clothing when spraying agrochemicals, then please print our Stay Safe poster.

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science d-logo

Pesticides found in honey around the world

 

Insecticides are cropping up in honey samples from around the world, a new study finds, suggesting that bees and other pollinators are being widely exposed to these dangerous chemicals. The commonly used insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, are absorbed by plants and spread throughout their tissues. When pollinators collect and consume contaminated pollen and nectar, they can suffer from learning and memory problems that hamstring their ability to gather food and sometimes threaten the health of the whole hive. That’s a pressing concern because of the important role of honey bees and wild bees in pollinating crops, particularly fruits and vegetables. To get an idea of the extent of the threat to pollinators from pesticides, researchers in Switzerland asked their friends, relatives, and colleagues around the world to provide locally sourced honey. They found neonicotinoids most frequently in samples from North America, where 86% had one or more neonicotinoid, and least often in South America, where they occurred in 57% of samples. Globally, just over a third of samples had levels that have been shown to hurt bees, the researchers report today in Science. None of the samples had concentrations dangerous to human health. More than two types of neonicotinoids turned up in 45% of the honey samples, and 10% had four or five; the effects of mixtures are not known, but suspected to be worse. The team calls on governments to make more data available on the amounts of neonicotinoids being used in agriculture, which would help clarify the relationship between the amounts used by farmers and how much turns up in honey.

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agweek

 

Grand Forks, ND

70°

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The impact of dicamba drift on fields won’t be known until soybean harvest begins. (Michelle Rook/Special to Agweek)

Yield impact of dicamba injury unknown, label changes possible in SD

HURON, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Agriculture fielded dozens of dicamba injury complaints from off-target drift this season, and they’re still taking input from farmers to determine the total number of acres hit. State officials are looking at possible label changes for spraying dicamba on Xtend soybeans next year, but a lot of that hinges on what farmers find in the fields this fall.

Farmers that had some or widespread cupping in soybeans this season may not know the full production impact until harvest.

 “The combine will tell, we don’t know,” says Reno Brueggeman, who farms near Miller, S.D. “Nobody knows. It’s one of those things that nobody’s seen before. Maybe nothing is going to come of it, maybe there won’t be any yield loss, but nobody knows.”

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers agrees about the unknowns.

“For the most part I don’t think we’re going to know until harvest gets here,” he says. “Fortunately, we do have the technology of yield monitors and things on the majority of farms, so I think that will help.”

Agronomists are looking at past research on the yield impact of dicamba on soybeans for clues. “The real key was, as long as the growing point wasn’t hurt, it was felt that beans will be fine and recover,” says Paul Johnson, South Dakota State University Extension weed specialist.

 However, he says most of the research was done 40 years ago and the application timing was different then. “The difference is now we are spraying it a month later than we did before, and we really don’t know how those effects will compare the same or not,” Johnson says. “In a lot of cases, maybe we were pushing the window on the application timing, because once we go past the last week of June, we’re going to start flowering and it is just labeled for R1.”

 

Once more is known on yield impact, then state officials in South Dakota can determine label changes for 2018.

“I think we definitely will see changes in the labeling,” Jaspers says. “In South Dakota we did a one-year, restricted label which will expire in December, so virtually it’s done as the application season is done for this year, so we would have to reassess that label anyway. I’m looking at maybe restricting the time of day to try to get away from those inversion issues, or maybe have a restriction as far as growth stage or calendar date, so we don’t get into the hotter portions of the growing season.”

Jaspers encourages farmers to report damage and yield results to help them with that decision-making process.

“We’re definitely hoping that people will continue to report to the Department of Ag,” he says. “Right on our website there’s a link to a dicamba reporting page.”

Jaspers is also confident they’ll require the product manufacturers to do more education with farmers and applicators before the next growing season.

“In South Dakota we required a lot of education on their part — to come and do a lot of training and education of the applicators. I’m pretty confident that will be one of the key issues right there,” he says.

On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency is working with herbicide companies and manufacturers to decide if they will impose other label or application changes.

“I’d be surprised if we won’t see some modifications on the state level,” says Johnson.

The other lingering question is if a farmer proves there was a yield loss, will crop insurance cover that loss? Brueggeman, who is also an agent, says no.

“Crop insurance has to be a natural loss, natural cause of disaster. Your farm liability insurance is going to have to step in on this,” he says.

Despite that, Brueggeman says a large number of farmers are gearing up to plant Xtend soybeans again in 2018 because of the excellent weed control they get, especially on resistant weeds like kochia and waterhemp. He says the technology is not going away.

“There’s a lot of people who are mad and it’s understandable, but I hope they have an open mind. We can get through this point,” he says.

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