More bad news for bees: The new “F” word

David Suzuki Foundation

More bad news for bees: The new “F” word

The new F word
Credit: Rakib Hasan Sumon via Flickr

Have you heard of flupyradifurone? Probably not, unless you work for the federal government agency poised to approve this new pesticide for use in Canada. But take note: This new “F” word is bad news for bees.

Flupyradifurone is an insect-killing systemic pesticide similar to the controversial neonicotinoid, or neonic, family of bee-killing chemicals. When applied to seeds or soil, it’s absorbed by plant roots and travels to leaves, flowers, pollen and nectar, making the plant potentially toxic to insects.

This past summer, the international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides analyzed 800 scientific studies and concluded that systemic pesticides like neonics are harming bees, butterflies, birds and worms and should be phased out globally. The European Union banned three neonics for “crops attractive to bees”, but the European Environment Agency says that’s just a starting point, and recommends regulators look at similar pesticides and take into account potential harmful effects on aquatic invertebrates, birds and other insects. The EEA also found “mounting scientific evidence has been systematically suppressed for many years and early warnings were ignored.”

Inexplicably, Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency has yet to respond to the Task Force findings and now wants to approve a new systemic pesticide. What’s especially troubling is that, in its description, the PMRA states flupyradifurone “may pose a risk” to bees, birds, worms, spiders, small mammals and aquatic bugs, and that it doesn’t readily break down in water, air or sunlight and may carry over to the following growing season. When it enters streams, rivers and wetlands, “it may persist for a long time.”

Like neonics, flupyradifurone is a nerve poison, acutely toxic to bees if ingested. As in the past, we don’t fully understand the cumulative effects of the increasing amounts of today’s insecticides, pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals being applied to crops across the country.

Neonicotinoids are showing up more frequently and in higher concentrations than the harmful chemicals they replaced. A study last year found 90 per cent of Saskatchewan prairie potholes contained residual neonics in the spring, before farmers planted their fields. Research from the U.S. Midwest found neonics in all 79 samples taken from nine rivers. Similar results have been found in wetlands, streams and rivers in the southwest U.S., Georgia and California.

It’s not even clear whether the widespread use of neonic seed treatments increases agricultural yields. A recent report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding soy crop treatments concluded, “these seed treatments provide little or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.”

The European Environment Agency also found a 2004 ban on neonicotinoid chemicals by France for sunflower and maize crops hasn’t negatively affected productivity. In fact, yields were higher in 2007 than they’d been in a decade.

You’d think we’d learn from past experience with persistent and bioaccumulative pesticides like DDT and organophosphates, and the more recent research on neonicotinoids. DDT was widely used until Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring drew attention to its negative impacts on ecosystems, wildlife and humans. Many, but not all, organophosphate pesticides have also been pulled from widespread use because we learned their neurotoxic effects posed serious risks to humans and wildlife.

Rather than approving new pesticides that may harm pollinators, birds and other animals, including humans, we need better ways to protect crops. A recent report, “Alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides for pest control“, published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, suggests further research and methods including “diversifying crop rotations, altering the timing of planting, tillage and irrigation, using less sensitive crops in infested areas, applying biological control agents,” and other lower-risk alternatives.

We need to stop contaminating the environment with neonics and related systemic pesticides. Approving flupyradifurone would take us in the wrong direction. Canada’s Pest Management Regulation Agency is accepting comments on flupyradifurone approval until November 3. You can submit through the PMRA or David Suzuki Foundation websites.

Putting bees and ecosystem functioning at risk endangers us all. It’s time to find a better way.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Specialist Jode Roberts.

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Drought Map for October 21 2014


a little Franklin Stove fire to warm a daydream… from Susan H. Lawler’s cottage…

Lanesboro Local Classes- Still time to register

Lanesboro Local

October 20, 2014

Still time to register-

Lanesboro Local to host Three New Classes

“Artistry in Gifting for the Holidays”

Lanesboro Local in partnership with the River Roots Skills School has scheduled three classes on
Saturday, November 1, 2014
at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center.

Come learn how to create popular, personally unique items for gifts or to keep for yourself.

“Artisan Handcrafted Skin Products with Karen Schmidt of Schmidt House Candle and Bath, Preston”, 9 am to 12 noon, $25.00 materials included. Learn to safely work with natural ingredients to create personal skin products in class. Class will be making soaps, body butters and body scrubs and includes recipes, supplier options plus portions of each of the three products prepared in class. For more info about Karen Schmidt:

“Intro to Gourd Art with Sue Schreurs” 1 to 4 pm, $30.00 materials included.
Sue will share in-depth information about hard shelled gourds from growing your own to creating unique art forms. To learn the various decorative options of gourd art, she will lead the class in creating decorative masks to take home. Sue Schreurs of Rochester is an experienced, engaging teacher who loves gourds as a natural sustainable art form.

“Paint and Libation Class – Winter Frost in the Woods with Joni Finnegan” 2 – 4:30 pm, $35.00, Art materials included – no artistic skills required!

Paint your own holiday treasure with local Award winning Artist Joni Finnegan. This Holiday themed painting class is designed to be a fun, laid back experience… even for those who have never painted before. Students will be guided step by step thru the process to replicate the featured painting. Plenty of time to socialize. Bring a group of friends, expect lots of laughter and go home with a finished painting to treasure. Libations will be available. For more about Joni:

Register online at or call Lanesboro Local at 507-467-2944.
Class sizes are limited. Register early to insure a spot. Noon Lunch on campus will be available for purchase. Please make reservations for this option when registering.

Through these classes, Lanesboro Local is continuing to creatively promote local producers. River Roots Skills School is a new adult educational venture in affiliation with Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center with the mission to empower individuals to live and lead a balanced life in a sustainable world. Working together through this event, both organizations are building awareness of the true value of locally grown and produced goods. For more information Call 507-467-2944 or email

This programing is made possible through financial support of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

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I Am The Soil

Younger Americans are less interested than ever in the environment and taking action to save nature. Only 20 percent of those surveyed from 2000-2009 expressed interest in involving themselves in cleaning up the environment…(2012 American Psychological Association survey of high school seniors and college freshmen)[from Conservation International’s Nature is Speaking

Texans have negative IQs

Texas hospital workers must be Savant Idiots – one thinks self-quarantine means getting on a cruise ship to partyharty with a few thousand people and another thought it meant getting on a plane with ~200 folks…

ebola cruise ship carnival-magic-belize-waters-2014






Galveston, Texas-based Carnival Magic cruise ship anchored at Stake Bank off Belize’s coast.

Reports tonight are that two individuals possibly infected with the Ebola virus are in Belizean waters. Local TV station Channel 7 monitored in the capital City Of Belmopan tonight, reported having credible reports that a couple from a Texas-based cruise ship presently anchored off Belize City, is on a ship tender, unable to return to the cruise ship, while being refused entry to Belize City to catch an air ambulance awaiting at the International Airport to take them to the their country of origin, the U.S.A. The television station in its broadcast tonight said Belize health authorities contacted tonight have so far refused to deny or confirm the report. The patient exhibiting Ebola symptoms has been confirmed to be a nurse at a Dallas hospital traveling with her husband.

Later tonight in breaking news,  Channel 5 Belize reported that it has:

“Confirmed with representatives of the Ministry of Health that they have indeed received a report that there is at least one passenger on board the cruise ship, Carnival Magic, showing symptoms similar to that of the Ebola virus. According to the report made to MOH, the person exhibiting the symptoms did not come ashore today. The ship is reportedly carrying 3652 passengers and a total population of 4633 persons.

“The Carnival Magic departed from Galveston Texas on Sunday, October 12 arrived in Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday October 15 and arrived in Belize this morning, Thursday October 16.

“The ship was scheduled to leave Belize en route to Cozumel this evening at 5pm. However, it is still anchored in Belizean waters near State Bank Caye.”

“We have also have confirmed that the Belize Coast Guard has been deployed to prevent anyone from leaving the ship; including the Belizean pilot on board.”

In a press conference held last weak, Belize’s Ministry of Health stated that in the event of an outbreak of Ebola in Belize, no patient would be allowed into the commercial capital Belize City, where most of the Belize government cabinet officials reside. The MOH stated that the government hospital, the Karl Heuesner Memorial Hospital has but one Intensive Care Unit and they would not allow this to be overrun with Ebola patients. Belize is a a very poor country on the Yucatan Peninsula that depends to a large extent on tourism and grants from Venezuela for its foreign exchange income. Belize City is currently the main port of call for cruise ships.

Update: Channel 7 news anchor Indira Craig has posted on her Facebook page that Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a callous move in view of very close Belize-U.S. relations, has denied entry into Belize for the stricken U.S. nationals to be air lifted to the U.S.A. for treatment:

“Talks have concluded with the PM and The US State Department officials. Belize WILL NOT BE GRANTING ACCESS to the suspected passengers to have entry onto our shores. An official release will be sent out shortly by government followed by a press conference to be held tomorrow.Passports have been returned so this scare has ended.”

In a late night official press release issued by the Belize Press Office, the Belize government offered its version of the Belize Ebola Incident.It stresses that while the patient did not disembark in Belize, it does not address the question that thousands of cruise ship passengers that may have had contact with the patient(s) did in fact disembark and tour Belize City today:

Belmopan. October 16, 2014. The Government of Belize was contacted today by officers of the U.S. Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola. The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. The Ebola virus may only be spread by patients who are experiencing fever and symptoms of illness and so the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.

The GOB reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize and while we remain in close contact with US officials we have maintained the position that when even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people. The Prime Minister has called a press conference tomorrow morning to further address any concerns that may arise from this event.

Update From Carnival Cruise Lines: John Head, Carnival Senior Cruise Director wrote on his FaceBook Page:

“Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15., we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board.”


Drought Map for October 14 2014

dam ipad

photos by Ardie Gerber, near The Dam lace

As regards Ebola

As regards Ebola – and other infectious diseases – this is a cusp moment, and Mike Osterholm has important ideas that must be taken seriously. This is a presentation he gave at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Link to the broadcast is below; scroll down for the audio.

This Ebola outbreak is spreading so fast, both in numbers and geographic extent, that it is likely to spread all across equatorial Africa, perhaps to India and beyond. The latest report (BBC) says mortality is now at 70%. Do the math for the great cities of Asia; think of the slums around the great cities of South America.

“Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota told the Hopkins audience that the Ebola Virus is spreading faster than any effort to fight it.

“Now we have focused so heavily on fever for screening, in our clinics and so forth, what if somebody presents that doesn’t have a fever?” he says.

“He told the Hopkins audience that help must also be funneled to Central Africa as well as West Africa, since those most likely to get the virus move from country to country to find work.

“And there is no Plan B. There is no Plan B. How will we fight this if in fact this were to suddenly flare up in one of these cities, along the belt in Equatorial Africa,” he remarks. “What would we do? Could we fight it on two fronts? We can’t fight it on one front.”