Cities protest farm bill ban on local pesticide restrictions

In a letter to House and Senate ag leaders, officials from 60 U.S. cities have protested a House farm bill provision that would prohibit them from setting local pesticide restrictions that are tougher than the federal government’s.

Colony collapse surges among honeybees

After a sharp drop in 2017, colony collapse disorder hit more U.S. honeybee operators this year, said USDA on Wednesday. The annual Honey Bee Colonies report said 77,800 colonies were lost to the disorder during the first quarter of this year, a 15-percent increase from 2017 for operations with five or more colonies. January through March is traditionally the period with the highest losses.

EU bans outdoor use of neonicotinoids on crops

The member nations of the EU voted for a near-total ban of neonicotinoid insecticides, over the objections of farmers and pesticide manufacturers. Known as neonics, the chemicals are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world and have been linked by scientific studies to the decline in honeybees and other pollinators, said BBC News.

House bill would suspend use of neonicotinoid insecticides

Two Democratic lawmakers unveiled legislation to suspend the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, with the goal of reducing high mortality rates of honeybees and other pollinating species.

Neonics found year-round in Great Lakes tributaries

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey found neonicotinoid insecticides in 74 percent of the water samples they analyzed from 10 major tributaries of the Great Lakes. The insecticides were "detected in every month sampled and five of the six target neonicotinoids were detected." Environmental Health News says the study "suggests the Great Lakes' fish, birds and entire ecosystems might be at risk" from the insecticides that are believed to be a factor in high mortality rates of honeybees.

Researchers experiment with windbreaks as an aid for pollinators

At the University of Nebraska, researchers are experimenting with the agricultural landscape to see if modifications such as windbreaks or cover crops will limit pesticide drift and help bees avoid harmful exposure to the chemicals. Farmers generally plant corn and soybean seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides, which can be rubbed off of the seed during planting and land on plants visited by foraging bees, says Harvest Public Media.

The varroa mite might have a vulnerability

Researchers have found “genetic holes” in the armor of the varroa mite, a parasite that is a leading culprit in the decimation of honeybees, that could lead to strategies for controlling or even eliminating the mite, reports Science Daily.

Oregon Democrat wants a ban on neonics in the farm bill

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer "wants to include a ban on pesticides linked to declining bee health in next year's farm bill," says Bloomberg BNA. The Democrat, who is not a member of the committee that will write the farm bill, would suspend EPA approval of neonicotinoid pesticides until the agency determines they don't harm pollinators, such as honeybees.

France to stick to 2018 neonicotinoid ban

The first internal dispute of the Macron administration showcased the contrasting views of France’s agriculture and environment ministers over a law that bans the use of neonicotinoid insecticides starting in 2018.

With some revisions, Boulder County will end GE crops, neonics on county land

By the same 2-1 vote as last November, Boulder County commissioners approved a new version of their plan to phase out genetically engineered corn and sugar beets on county-owned farmland.