Trump administration lifts Obama-era GMO crop ban on U.S. wildlife refuges

The Japan Times

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges. "Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species," said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife. Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there. The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops -- such as soybeans and corn -- engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides.

Pesticide linked to decline in bee populations found in 75% of honey samples worldwide

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – When researchers collected honey samples from around the world, they found that three-quarters of them had a common type of pesticide suspected of playing a role in the decline of bees. Even honey from the island paradise of Tahiti had the chemical. That demonstrates how pervasive a problem the much-debated pesticide is for honeybees, said authors of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. They said it is not a health problem for people because levels were far below governments' thresholds on what's safe to eat. "What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination," said study lead author Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, adding that there are "relatively few places where we did not find any."

Spying on bees reveals pesticides impair social behavior

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Pesticides can impair the behaviour of bumble bees and affect their ability to eat and rear their young, a new study has shown. The research - which allowed humans to take a closer look at the bee in its environment - revealed how the pesticide neonicotinoid can harm its behaviour. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. The most commonly used to control weeds and pests are Bayer and Ortho products. The findings add to a long-standing list of concerns about these critical creatures that pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90 per cent of the world.

Now Trump's Going After the Bumble Bees

Mother Jones

Now Trump is going after bees. Just weeks before leaving office, the Obama administration's Fish and Wildlife Service placed the rusty patched bumblebee on the endangered species list--the first bee species to gain that status in the continental United States. Just weeks after taking office, the Trump administration temporarily reversed that decision. The official announcement of the delay cites a White House memo, released just after Trump's inauguration, instructing federal agencies to freeze all new regulations that had been announced but not yet taken effect, for the purpose of "reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise." The Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the endangered species list, acted just in the nick of time in delaying the bumble bee's endangered status--it was scheduled to make its debut on the list on February 10.


Daily Mail

A total EU ban of controversial pesticides that kill millions of bees will be backed by the UK, the Environment Secretary said. In a reversal from the government's previous position, Michael Gove said the government now also supports an EU-wide ban. The move was hailed by green campaigners as a strong signal that the environment will continue to be protected after Brexit. In a reversal from the government's previous position, Michael Gove (pictured) said the government now supports an EU-wide ban The pesticides - known as neo-nicotinoids or'neo-nics' - are meant to kill insects that eat crops. They are used in sprays and coatings on seeds – killing sap-sucking weevils and aphids.