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The materials and information included in this Latest News page are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the page are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.

      



 

 

30 pallets of beehives stolen from Madera County orchard found in Fresno County

By Robert Rodriguez

More than 30 pallets of stolen bee hives were recovered by Madera and Fresno county law enforcement officials Friday.

The hives were stolen from an orchard on Road 20 in Madera County in March and found in 6000 block of East Central last week. The hives are worth $35,000.

Madera County detectives arrested 51-year-old Pavel Tveretinov of Sacramento on suspicion of possession of stolen property. He was later booked into the Madera County Department of Corrections.

Madera County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bill Ward said bee hive thefts are not uncommon in the Valley, where beehives are brought in by the truckload to pollinate thousands of acres of almonds. Ward said detectives believe the suspect was also in the “bee business.”

“Hives can be worth a lot of money,” he said.

Ward urged beekeepers to mark their hives in some way or to check them regularly to prevent theft.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob


Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article147967949.html#storylink=cpy

***PLEASE NOTE-you may contact Detective Andres Solis at Andres.solis@fresnosheriff.org with any information regarding this investigation.***

 

Study Finds Substantial Risks to Honey Bees During and After Crop Pollination

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2017) Past use of agricultural pesticides puts honey bees at risk across multiple growing seasons, according to research from scientists at Cornell University in New York. According to lead author Scott McArt, PhD, “Our data suggest pesticides are migrating through space and time.” Honey bees, which over the past decade have experienced unsustainable declines over 40% each year, are at great risk from exposure to a range of pesticides, chiefly the neonicotinoid class of insecticides. This new research adds to calls from beekeepers, environmental groups, and progressive farmers to transition agriculture away from pesticide-dependent practices.

Cornell researchers conducted a massive study that analyzed both the pollen source and pesticide residue found therein for 120 experimental hives placed near 30 apple orchards in New York State. The landscapes surrounding each orchard were classified based on the amount of natural area or agricultural land that was present. Scientists analyzed risk to honey bees by collecting information about pesticide use during the growing season as well as the amount of pesticide contamination in “beebread,” pollen tightly packed unto pellets by bees used as food or in the production of royal jelly.

“Beekeepers are very concerned about pesticides, but there’s very little field data,” said Dr. McArt in a press release. “We’re trying to fill that gap in knowledge, so there’s less mystery and more fact regarding this controversial topic.”

Results showed that while nearly every colony collected apple pollen, it comprised a relatively small percentage of total forage – roughly 9% of total pollen on average out of the 120 hives. The most frequently sought pollen was buckthorn, which was also found in nearly every hive, but averaged 39% of the total quantity collected.

While the amount of land used for apple production correlated with higher numbers of pesticides found in beebread, that data point alone does not indicate a higher risk to pollinators. In this case, the type of pesticide detected made a difference. Consistent with current agricultural practices, significant quantities of fungicides are used on apple crops. However, researchers determined that insecticides put honey bees in greatest danger. In fact, most of the insecticide load in colonies was determined to be from pesticide applications made in prior years. In 28 out of 30 orchard sites, pesticides not sprayed during that year are detected, totaling 64% of total pesticides found, with roughly 2.8 novel pesticides discovered at each site. The researchers indicate that this is consistent with trends found in other studies, which have shown wildflowers and field margins to contain high levels of pesticides years after these chemicals were applied.

Overall, 17% of colonies have pesticide levels so high they present an acute hazard to honey bees, while 73% contain residues that indicate a chronic exposure risk. Ultimately, researchers determined that neonicotinoids as well as a range of other insecticides present significant risks to pollinating honey bees.

“We found risk was attributed to many different types of pesticides. Neonicotinoids were not the whole story, but they were part of the story.” Dr. McArt said in a press release. “Because neonicotinoids are persistent in the environment and accumulate in pollen and nectar, they are of concern. But one of our major findings is that many other pesticides contribute to risk.”

Results of this study are consistent with past research from Cornell University. A study published in 2015 focused on wild pollinators and found that as the number of pesticide applications increased, wild pollinator numbers subsequently decreases. While this current study calculated risk based on lab-derived toxicity data, the prior study found empirical evidence of lower numbers of wild pollinators when fungicide applications are made before bloom, and insecticide applications are made after bloom occurs. It follows that while fungicides may present a lower toxicological risk on paper, their influence in real-world conditions, where these fungicides are likely to be combined with other pesticides, indicates their effects may be more significant than previously assumed.

Concerned individuals can join in the protection of pollinators by encouraging their local and state officials to enact strong policies that protect these critical species. With one in three bites of food dependent on crop pollination, including nutrient dense foods like apples and almonds, urgent action is needed now. Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides. 

Source: Cornell University PR, Scientific Reports

Could This Tiny Bug Help Solve Our Big Plastic Bag Problem?

by Laura Geggel, Live Science

A wiggly, ravenous caterpillar — one that doesn't limit its diet to naturally grown objects — can biodegrade plastic bags, a material infamous for the amount of time it takes to decompose, a new study finds.

The 1-inch-long (3 centimeters) wax worm, also known as the honey worm caterpillar (Galleria mellonella), is no stranger to unconventional meals. It's usually found in beehives, munching away on waxy, goo-drenched honeycombs, the researchers said.

Now, through a serendipitous discovery, it's clear that G. mellonella can also decompose polyethylene, a thin but tough plastic that is used across various industries, including in shopping bags and food packaging.

The discovery happened during a beekeeping experience, said the study's senior researcher, Federica Bertocchini, a research scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), who also works at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, in Santander, Spain. Bertocchini, who is also an amateur beekeeper, happened upon the wax caterpillars when she was cleaning out the panels from one of her beehives. (Beekeeping panels look like wooden picture frames that are filled with honeycomb.)

"I removed the worms, and put them in a plastic bag while I cleaned the panels," Bertocchini said in a statement. "After finishing, I went back to the room where I had left the worms, and I found that they were everywhere. They had escaped from the bag, even though it had been closed."

Upon closer inspection, she realized that the caterpillars had made holes in the bag before fleeing. "This project began there and then," Bertocchini said.

When Bertocchini and her colleagues placed the caterpillars on polyethylene plastic bags, holes appeared in the bags within an hour, they found. Perhaps the caterpillars can degrade the plastic because it has chemical bonds that are similar to those found in beeswax, the researchers said.

"We have carried out many experiments to test the efficacy of these worms in biodegrading polyethylene," Bertocchini said. "One hundred wax worms are capable of biodegrading 92 milligrams [0.003 ounces] of polyethylene in 12 hours, which really is very fast."

The researchers found that the caterpillars chemically transformed the polyethylene into ethylene glycol. This compound is a colorless and odorless alcohol that has a sweet taste but is poisonous if ingested, according to PubChem, a database at the National Institutes of Health. Ethylene glycol is used as an antifreeze and coolant, PubChem reported.

However, it wasn't clear whether the caterpillar degraded the plastic simply by eating it, the researchers said. So, to find out, they took the caterpillar's whitish cocoon, or chrysalis, and put it against another piece of plastic. Incredibly, the chrysalis also biodegraded the polyethylene, the researchers said.

It's likely that the caterpillars produce an enzyme that can degrade the plastic when they eat it, or when it rubs against them or their chrysalis. The researchers said they hope to detect, isolate and produce it soon on an industrial scale.

"In this way, we can begin to successfully eliminate this highly resistant material," Bertocchini said.

Plastic problem

Every year, factories around the world produce about 88 million tons (80 million metric tons) of polyethylene. Although it's used widely — the average person uses about 230 plastic bags annually — the material is slow to degrade. The low-density polyethylene used in plastic bags can take about 100 years to decompose completely, and the most resistant polyethylene products can take up to 400 years to decompose, the researchers said.

Chemical degradation can break down the bags, but this process can take months and uses corrosive liquids, including nitric acid, the researchers said. In contrast, the caterpillar discovery is the first solution that can biodegrade polyethylene naturally, the researchers said.

G. mellonella, which eventually metamorphoses into a moth, is found all over the world. The caterpillar lives for about six to seven weeks before it spins a silk chrysalis.

However, just because the caterpillar offers a possible way to deal with plastic waste, it's not a reason to continue polluting, Bertocchini said.

"We should not feel justified to dump polyethylene deliberately in our environment just because we now know how to biodegrade it," she said.

The study was published online today (April 24) in the journal Current Biology.

Original article on Live Science.

 

Common pesticide damages honey bee's ability to fly

April 26, 2017

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated for the first time that a widely used pesticide can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Previous research has shown that foraging honey bees that ingested neonicotinoid pesticides, crop insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture, were less likely to return to their home nest, leading to a decrease in foragers.

A study published April 26 in Scientific Reports by UC San Diego postdoctoral researcher Simone Tosi, Biology Professor James Nieh, along with Associate Professor Giovanni Burgio of the University of Bologna, Italy, describes in detail how the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam damages honey bees. Thiamethoxam is used in crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton. To test the hypothesis that the pesticide impairs flight ability, the researchers designed and constructed a flight mill (a bee flight-testing instrument) from scratch. This allowed them to fly bees under consistent and controlled conditions.

Months of testing and data acquisition revealed that typical levels of neonicotinoid exposure, which bees could experience when foraging on agricultural crops—but below lethal levels—resulted in substantial damage to the honey bee's ability to fly.

"Our results provide the first demonstration that field-realistic exposure to this pesticide alone, in otherwise healthy colonies, can alter the ability of bees to fly, specifically impairing flight distance, duration and velocity" said Tosi. "Honey bee survival depends on its ability to fly, because that's the only way they can collect food. Their flight ability is also crucial to guarantee crop and wild plant pollination."

Long-term exposure to the pesticide over one to two days reduced the ability of bees to fly. Short-term exposure briefly increased their activity levels. Bees flew farther, but based upon other studies, more erratically.

"Bees that fly more erratically for greater distances may decrease their probability of returning home," said Nieh, a professor in UC San Diego's Division of Biological Sciences.

This pesticide does not normally kill bees immediately. It has a more subtle effect, said Nieh.

"The honey bee is a highly social organism, so the behavior of thousands of bees are essential for the survival of the colony," said Nieh." We've shown that a sub-lethal dose may lead to a lethal effect on the entire colony."

Honey bees carry out fundamentally vital roles in nature by providing essential ecosystem functions, including global pollination of crops and native plants. Declines in managed honey bee populations have raised concerns about future impacts on the environment, food security and human welfare.

Neonicotinoid insecticides are neurotoxic and used around the world on broad varieties of crops, including common fruits and vegetables, through spray, soil and seed applications. Evidence of these insecticides has been found in the nectar, pollen and water that honey bees collect.

"People are concerned about honey bees and their health being impaired because they are so closely tied to human diet and nutrition," said Nieh. "Some of the most nutritious foods that we need to consume as humans are bee-pollinated."

More information: Simone Tosi et al, A common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, impairs honey bee flight ability, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01361-8

Journal reference: Scientific Reports search and more infowebsite

Provided by: University of California - San Diego

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-common-pesticide-honey-bee-ability.html#jCp

 

Haagen-Dazs Pleased to Have Virtual Reality Experience “The Extraordinary Honey Bee” Selected for HTC Vive’s VR for Impact Program

Haagen-Dazs was one of three awardees as HTC Vive marks Earth Day by unveiling the first grant recipients from its $10 million program targeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 9:25am

NEWSROOM: Nestlé in the U.S.

CAMPAIGN: Nestlé's Commitment to Sustainability

San Francisco, CA., April 26, 2017 /3BL Media/ - From 1,400 submissions, “The Extraordinary Honey Bee” has been selected as one of the first three grant recipients for HTC Vive’s VR for Impact program. VR for Impact is a program that HTC Vive created to invest $10 million on VR projects that ladder up to the UN’s sustainability goals.

The Häagen-Dazs® brand’s VR film “The Extraordinary Honey Bee,” takes you on a journey to learn about the impact bees have on our world, their plight, and how we can make a change to save them. Through cutting-edge VR technology and equipment, we are able to tell a more personal story for viewers to inspire sustainable change. By leveraging VR’s innate ability to create empathy in its audience, the goal is to educate people about the honey bees’ plight and teach them how they can be part of the solution.

Orchid Bertelsen, Nestlé USA Digital Innovation Lead highlighted that Nestlé “believes in the transformative and educational power of VR and are excited to use this technology to bring the plight of the honey bee to life. We are thrilled to partner with HTC, not only because of their innovative technology and valuable audience, but because of their ideals and shared belief of harnessing the power of VR to drive true impact."

The VR footage was shot in Chowchilla, CA at the orchard where the Häagen-Dazs® brand sources all of its almonds. In partnership with the Xerces Society, Häagen-Dazs® worked hand-in-hand with the farmer supplier to install bee-friendly habitat covering 840 acres of farmland -- the largest, privately funded pollinator habitat in the US. The newly planted habitat consists of six and a half miles of hedgerow and 11,000 native drought-tolerant shrubs and flowering plants.

The film is part of Häagen-Dazs® Loves Honey Bees program, which was created in 2008 with a goal of supporting bee conservation through investments in research, improvement in sustainability via supply chain, and advocacy through lobbying and content. Currently the program is working to impact industrial and community farming habits to conserve and promote bees who pollinate ⅓ of the world’s food crops and require biodiverse ecosystems to survive. Film marketing kicked off in January at the Sundance Film Festival with the film announcement and release of a teaser trailer. The film and campaign will also be promoted during Free Cone Day on May 9, 2017 where ice cream lovers are invited to visit participating Häagen-Dazs® shops in the United States to receive one free scoop, including bee dependent ice cream flavors. In return, the brand is asking guests to pay it forward by planting wildflowers native to their region to help keep bees buzzing.

"One-third of the world's crops depend on pollinators such as honey bees, as do one third of Häagen-Dazs' ice cream flavors,” explained Kerry McLaughlin, Häagen-Dazs® Brand Content and Strategy Lead. “Bees are being threatened on a variety of fronts and as a brand, we recognize the important role we must play to promote sustainable farming practices and ensure pollinators continue to enrich the planet.”

The “Extraordinary Honey Bee” film releases July 2017 on Viveport, HTC’s app store for virtual reality and across brand social channels in support of larger honey bee campaign efforts.

About Häagen-Dazs®

Häagen-Dazs® was founded by Reuben Mattus in 1960 on a passion for transforming simple flavors and the finest ingredients possible into an extraordinary ice cream experience. True to tradition, the original super-premium brand is committed to using only the finest ingredients in crafting the world's finest ice cream. Today, the Häagen-Dazs® brand offers ice cream and sorbet in more than 65 flavors available around the globe. For more information, please visit www.haagendazs.us. You can also check out the latest updates at facebook.com/HaagenDazsUS, on Instagram or Twitter (@HaagenDazs_US). HÄAGEN-DAZS® is used under license. ©HDIP, Inc.

Media Contact:

Edie Burge
Nestlé in the United States
818-551-3284
Edie.Burge@us.nestle.com

- See more at: http://3blmedia.com/News/Haagen-Dazs-Pleased-Have-Virtual-Reality-Experience-Extraordinary-Honey-Bee-Selected-HTC-Vives#sthash.LPvXyH9P.dpuf

AHPA Vice President Update

I had the chance today to attend a grower appreciation lunch put on by the packer I sell my almonds to. The first thing they talked about was the crop estimate for this year by Terra Nova.  It's estimated to be 2.27B lbs. for 2017 (an increase of nearly 200M lbs. over their 2016 estimate). They half-jokingly estimated a 2.60B lb. crop in 2018. This was probably meant to serve as a wake-up call that there are larger crops on the horizon.  Which all growers (myself included and all beekeepers should be aware) that prices could come down some.  Also, the NASS numbers came out today and reported that for the first time California just passed 1 million bearing acres of the almonds this year!  Incredible!  It was also pointed out that the world's population will be up to around 7.7 billion people by 2020 and many of those people will be living in Asia and will able to buy more almonds. China is evidently pushing for its people to eat less meat and get more protein from nuts.  It should be a few interesting years coming up with all the new acreage of almonds coming in, to say the least!

Chris Hiatt
Vice President,
American Honey Producers Association

 

One Week Left to take the 2016-2017 Colony Loss and Management Survey

April 24, 2017 • Blog

ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT to take the 2016-2017 Colony Loss and Management Survey!

Take the Survey Today!

April 30th (this Sunday) is your last chance to participate in the 2016 – 2017 National Colony Loss and National Management Survey.

Taxes are finished so there is no excuse! Please pull up a chair, pour your favorite beverage and join us in sharing your data, your management strategy, your losses and accomplishments. There is NO TIME to wait. We need your help and YOU can make a difference.

The results that are received from this survey provide valuable information that help us obtain a clear picture of honey bee health throughout the country.

Have we said that we are grateful? We are! If you don’t want to do it for us, please do it for this lovely queen shown here. She needs your help too.

To help us continue this effort, click the link below to take the National Colony Loss and Management Survey for the 2016-2017 season:

Take the Survey Now!

If you would like to take a look at the 2016 – 2017 survey questions before beginning, or to download the survey so that you can take some notes before taking the survey online, click on the link below:

2016 – 2017 National Colony Loss and Management Survey Preview

This copy of the survey is meant to serve as an aid to the questions that will are being asked on the survey.  It is not meant to be mailed in as a hard copy submission.

We would like to thank everyone who has participated in this survey in the past and hope that you will be able to take some time out of your busy days to fill out the survey this year. You are what makes the survey successful and by taking the time to complete it, you are doing your part in contributing to the national research efforts to increase honey bee survivorship!


 
Bee Club Presentation
The Coalition recently unveiled a free informative presentation for bee clubs and associations to build on the success of
the Tools for Varroa Management Guide — which is now available in its 6th edition. The presentation walks beekeepers through the Guide and provides step-by-step instructions on Varroa monitoring and treatment techniques.
 
The Coalition also developed a video version of the presentation, which bee clubs and associations can simply play for their members.
 
Both the presentation and video are available for download at
honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa-bee-club-program/.
 
The Coalition hosted a webinar the evening of April 12 to demonstrate the bee club presentation.

 
New Varroacide Support
As beekeepers grapple with the persistent threat of Varroa mite infestations, they will need to rely on an expanding array of treatments. The Varroa mite has demonstrated an ability to build resistance to treatments that are currently on the market, and it is only a matter of time before the tools beekeepers count on today become ineffective.
 
Since late 2015, the Coalition has been working to find new effective compounds to use in an integrated pest management approach to reduce the costly effects of the Varroa mite. The Coalition is facilitating a group composed of U.S. and Canadian government agencies, agribusinesses, NGOs, and beekeeping associations to:

Develop a shared testing methodology that will seamlessly flow into the U.S. and Canadian registration processes;

Funnel compounds that have shown varroacidal promise into government labs in the United States and Canada to complete efficacy screening, move compounds that show promise into field testing and, eventually, advance them to the registration and product development processes; and,

Support the funding of lab and field testing.

 
Varroa mites pose significant challenges to honey bees, and the Coalition is dedicated to continuing to support beekeepers and apiarists as they work to confront them. This includes continuing to support the development, testing, and registration of compounds until a new effective control can be made available to beekeepers.

 

Monsanto tried to hide evidence of glyphosate (RoundUp) causing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: COURT DOCUMENTS

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by: Mike Adams

(Natural News) Court documents released on March 13th show that Monsanto colluded with the EPA to bury scientific evidence linking its glyphosate product (RoundUp) to cancer in humans (specifically, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).

Glyphosate.news has published the full text of the court document “Motion to Compel Deposition of Jess Rowland.”

Also published on Glyphosate.news is this heartbreaking letter from a dying EPA scientist begging her colleagues to stop lying about the dangers of glyphosate.

Continuing with the full disclosure of these court documents — originally acquired by U.S. Right to Know — Glyphosate.news has now published the full text of the “Third-Party Discovery and Pending Motions to Seal” document.

Some of the more interesting highlights from this document include these passages:

Monsanto has trumpeted reports generated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) concluding that glyphosate is not hazardous… In this phase, which is limited to “general causation,” the Court will decide only whether there is sufficient admissible evidence that glyphosate and/or Roundup is capable of causing cancer (specifically, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) in humans.

Texas A&M’s motion to quash the subpoena to Dr. Ivan Rusyn is granted. [Who is Dr. Ivan Rusyn? And why doesn’t Monsanto want him subpoenaed?]

Monsanto’s request to seal the documents submitted in connection with the motion to compel Rowland’s deposition is denied, with the exception of one document. As previously mentioned, the EPA reports are important to this litigation. Therefore, to support its sealing request, Monsanto must present compelling reasons for concealing documents relating to the EPA reports from the public… Potential embarrassment to Monsanto (or to Jess Rowland) is not enough.

Finally, the parties have submitted a discovery letter regarding Monsanto’s practice of designating a high percentage of documents produced in discovery as “confidential” in accordance with the protective order. That dispute is resolved in favor of Monsanto… when the plaintiffs provisionally file documents under seal based on Monsanto’s confidentiality designation, Monsanto must undertake a good-faith review of the documents and inform the Court whether they should remain under seal. [i.e. Monsanto will inform the court of whether Monsanto thinks its own documents should remain secret from the court.]

If Monsanto continues to file unreasonable or unsubstantiated declarations, it will be sanctioned.
Read the entire decision from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria at this link from Glyphosate.news.

Does Glyphosate / RoundUp cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Here’s what a few authors and researchers say on the subject:
Because the shikimate pathway is only found in plants, it is assumed that glyphosate does not affect animals and therefore is safe; however, the retinoic acid signaling pathway in animals is very similar to the shikimate pathway. Research by Mesnage et al. found that Roundup from 1 ppm to 20,000 ppm causes cells of the human body to die through necrosis. At 50 ppm it delays the cellular apoptosis that is essential for the normal functioning and regeneration of cells, body tissues, and organs. GLYPHOSATE AND CANCERS: A case-controlled study published in March 1999 by Swedish scientists Lennart Hardell and Mikael Eriksson showed that non-hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is linked to exposure to a range of pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate. Prior to the 1940s, non-hodgkin’s lymphoma was one of the world’s rarest cancers. Now it is one of the most common. Between 1973 and 1991, the incidence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma increased at the rate of 3.3 percent per year in the United States, making it the third fastest-growing cancer. In Sweden, the incidence of NHL has increased at the rate of 3.6 percent per year in men and 2.9 percent per year in women since 1958.
– The Myths of Safe Pesticides by Andre Leu

 

US Congressman Calls for DOJ Investigation into EPA-Monsanto Glyphosate Collusion

U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu issued a strongly worded statement this week regarding reports that unsealed court documents raise new questions about the safety of Monsanto weed killer Roundup and its chief ingredient glyphosate.

“New questions about the safety of Monsanto weed killer Roundup are deeply troubling. I worked on the glyphosate issue last term and I believe consumers should immediately stop using Roundup, whose core ingredient glyphosate has been labeled a likely carcinogen and has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. We need to find out if Monsanto or the Environmental Protection Agency misled the public.”

“Reports suggest that a senior official at the EPA worked to suppress a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review of glyphosate, and may have leaked information to Monsanto. I believe that a Department of Justice investigation is warranted to look into any potential misconduct by employees of the EPA. I also believe a congressional hearing is immediately warranted.”

Earlier this week Bloomberg reported that the EPA official who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of Monsanto Co.’s Roundup allegedly bragged to a company executive that he deserved a medal if he could kill another agency’s investigation into the herbicide’s key chemical.

The boast was made during an April 2015 phone conversation, according to farmers and others who say they’ve been sickened by the weed killer. After leaving his job as a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division last year, Jess Rowland has become a central figure in more than 20 lawsuits in the U.S. accusing the company of failing to warn consumers and regulators of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” Rowland told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager who recounted the conversation in an email to his colleagues, according to a court filing made public Tuesday. The company was seeking Rowland’s help stopping an investigation of glyphosate by a separate office, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, that is part of the U.S. Health and Human Service Department, according to the filing. The investigation never took place!

A federal judge overseeing the glyphosate litigation in San Francisco said last month he’s inclined to order Rowland to submit to questioning by lawyers for the plaintiffs, who contend he had a “highly suspicious” relationship with Monsanto. Rowland oversaw a committee that found insufficient evidence to conclude glyphosate causes cancer and quit last year shortly after his report was leaked to the press.

Sustainable Pulse provides the general public with the latest global news on GMOs, Sustainable Food and Sustainable Agriculture from our network of worldwide sources.

 

 

Some USDA scientists say their work has been tampered with — maybe for political reasons

In late 2014, a whistleblower scientist rocked the Agriculture Department with a charge that it retaliated against him because his research found that a popular and lucrative farm pesticide might harm pollinators such as bees.

The issue died down when the scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, withdrew his case to contemplate whether to make it broader, and because his superiors continued to penalize him for infractions that other scientists committed without discipline. Now a recent survey of the Agriculture Department’s scientists by the agency’s inspector general has brought it back to the forefront.

According to the survey’s findings, nearly 10 percent said their research has been tampered with or altered by superiors “for reasons other than technical merit,” possibly because of political considerations.

Questions were submitted by the inspector general to more than 2,000 scientists in four branches of the department — the Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service, Economic Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The intent was to gauge their understanding of its Scientific Integrity Policy, which allowed them to complain if they felt their work was compromised.

Nearly 40 percent didn’t bother to take the survey, according to findings released April 13. Of those who did, more than half said they didn’t know how to file a complaint and some said they didn’t do so because they feared retaliation.

“You do not need to have many cases to create a strong chilling effect, and the current science climate inside USDA is quite nippy,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which represented Lundgren.

The USDA has said it doesn’t retaliate against any employee, and disputed Lundgren’s claim that he was targeted to suppress his science. Lundgren had been with the agency 11 years, ran his own lab with a staff and wrote a well-regarded book on predator insects, but his career began to fall apart when he published research that cautioned against the use of pesticides approved by the agency.

In a Washington Post Magazine story about his case, Lundgren said he thought his downfall started in 2012 when he published findings in the Journal of Pest Science indicating that a popular class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, don’t improve soybean yields. He followed that the next year with a paper that said a new pest treatment called RNAi pesticides should trigger a new means of risk assessment.

After the research drew national interest and a report on NPR, Lundgren said he was hauled into the office of a superior who told him for the first time that he shouldn’t talk to the media. After speaking to another news outlet about another research paper months later, Lundgren was suspended for unruly office behavior when he pretended to hump a chair.

Later he was docked for filing an unsigned travel request and rushing off to an event. Other Agriculture Department scientists contacted by The Washington Post said they had done worse, such as not filing a travel request at all, and not faced a penalty.

In the survey, 85 percent of the 1,300 scientists who responded said the Scientific Integrity Policy established to protect their work didn’t benefit them, or offered no opinion. Nearly 20 percent said they didn’t know the policy existed.

A few scientists submitted unflattering comments about the agency’s attempt at integrity. “The SIP is kind of a nicety with no real meaning,” one said. “It has done nothing about the lack of scientific integrity exhibited by my station director,” another said. The SIP seems “designed to protect the agency only, not a code for individual scientists interacting with other scientists,” yet another said. The comments were anonymous.

“Nothing has really changed,” another comment said, “because the SIP still provides managers with the ability to stop communication of anything they want. The wording has changed and sounds better, but reality has not changed.”

Other scientists saw the policy in a more positive light. “My agency was doing a fairly good job already. My work was not directly changed by SIP. However, SIP is indirectly beneficial in supporting a climate of scientific integrity.” Another said: “The policy makes it clear that as a senior scientist, I am speaking from the facts of science and not opinion.”

 

Resident Naturalist Jim Luzzi releases bees into a hive at Oak Hill School in Eugene, Ore. Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Most of the schoolâs bee population died this winter as a result of a combination of potential factors, including pesticides, disease and cold weather. Second-graders at the private school raise the bees as part of their studies of the natural world. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)

Eugene second-graders abuzz over new bees

Oak Hill students sell baked goods, rally community support to restock hives

By Alisha Roemeling

April 19, 2017

As they walked in a single-file line from their classroom to the barn, second-grade students from Oak Hill School were clearly nervous.

“My hands are so shaky right now!” one student exclaimed.

The group of 7- and 8-year-old students had been waiting for this all year long: the day they became beekeepers.

As they pulled on their child-size white beekeeper suits, netted hoods and gloves, James Luzzi, the school’s naturalist, explained the importance of remaining calm while handling thousands of bees.

“We’re beekeepers today,” he said, standing in the sun near the big red barn. “And beekeepers are very, very calm.”

The entire second-grade class of 16 students, as well as 20 second-grade students from Triangle Lake Charter School in Blachly, suited up Tuesday to give about 112,000 honey bees new homes in seven separate hives. And even their beekeeper suits couldn’t contain their excitement as the sound of buzzing filled the air.

“There’s a bee on my head!” one student yelled.

“Everyone has bees on their heads,” Luzzi said. “We look great!”

Standing in a circle around the hive that soon would be home to about 16,000 bees, the students listened closely while Luzzi explain how the insects’ re-homing efforts would happen. As the sun broke through the clouds, he reminded them not to make sudden movements that could alarm — or even accidentally kill — the bees.

“Bees are interested in three things: pollen, nectar and water,” Luzzi said. “If they land on you, it’ll take them a little while to realize that you’re not any of those things, so don’t worry if they don’t immediately fly away. The more nervous you are, the more nervous the bees are. But bees are our friends.”

As he opened the small screened box to dump the bees into the hive, some students froze in their tracks; were ecstatic to see honey bees landing on their face nets, arms and heads.

“I was kind of scared they were going to get in my shirt,” said Isabella Hartwig, 7. “I kept getting itchy and thinking it was a bee.”

Each year a new group of second-grade students are in charge of tending to Oak Hill’s bees. They harvest the honey, feed the bees, learn about what it takes to be a beekeeper and the differences between backyard beekeeping and commercial beekeeping.

The bee program, for the most part, is manned by Luzzi, 63, who’s been keeping bees at the school for about seven years. He started working at the school doing part-time landscaping about 12 years ago. Since about 2009, he’s helped each grade to complete various science and environmental projects.

Luzzi has a bachelors of science degree in public policy and philosophy from the University of Oregon. He’s also studied ecology and the natural world for many years and has served as a graduate research fellow at UO’s Institute for Sustainable Environment.

Seven hives’ worth of honey bees at Oak Hill School in South Eugene died this winter, mostly because of cold temperatures, heavy snowfall and prolonged damp conditions in December and January. But Luzzi said that weather wasn’t the only factor in the bees’ demise. Backyard pesticides and chemicals and parasitic mites or other pests also might have contributed to the bee die-off. Food didn’t seem to be a problem; Luzzi said the bees had plenty of honey stored in each of the seven hives, five of which had successfully survived the winter before.

When the students discovered in February that their bees had died, they were devastated. Their response was to organize a bake sale to raise money to buy new bees.

James Pearson, the private school’s director of admissions and marketing, said proceeds from the bake sale and community donations totaled about $950, which was enough money for seven new hives worth of bees.

AHPA Attends 2017 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic

By Chris Hiatt
Vice President
American Honey Producers Association

Kelvin Adee and I recently had the opportunity to represent the AHPA at the Pheasants Forever Convention in Minneapolis. They had an official pollinator plaza with Mann Lake, Honeybee Health Coalition, Pollinator Partnership, Bayer's BeeCare people, Dupont's bee program, monarch people and others.

Over the weekend it was great to meet so many farmers that are planting more CRP and pollinator habitat and were concerned about the bees. If you would have told me ten years ago that bees would have been the major focus at this convention, I would have told you that you were crazy. It was impressive to meet so many people concerned and doing something to help honeybees in general.

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Cassie Cox
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