Tom's Corner

New rules/same old rules

Reread this article posted in my last post.  Then read this one, Minnesota’s new neonic rules pretty much same old rules.

The new article raises some legitimate questions which will be influenced by whatever further steps Minnesota may or may not take. The current steps will accomplish little.

They still have us making comparisons in pounds, totally inappropriate given that the neonics are 5 to 10 thousand times more toxic than DDT to lower level life forms. As I’ve said before, it’s like comparing rocks and nuclear warheads, both weapons, by weighing them.

According to the figures given, Minnesota is using 95,250 pounds of neonics a year (381,000 divided by the 4), which multiplied by 5000 gives the toxic equivalent of about 476 million pounds of DDT.

It gets worse though, because seed  treatments go unaccounted for and represent 90 per cent of actual use. If you add seed treatments in it means that Minnesota is applying the toxic equivalent of about 42 billion pounds of DDT, every year.  Year after year.

In its year of highest usage, 1959, only 80 million pounds of DDT were used in the entire country. Nobody seems to grasp the enormity of this environmental poisoning or they prefer to avoid that dirty little secret.

Governor Dayton may take further steps, but it looks like the ones taken so far are just more smoke and mirrors, however well-intentioned they may be.

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Minnesota’s step to control neonics: What will it really accomplish?

Minnesota has taken a step to control neonics – Seeking to reverse bee decline, Dayton orders limits on pesticide use – and it has the support of many leading Minnesota beekeepers who have been working on this, but what will it really accomplish? Is there any real substance or is this more smoke and mirrors to give the illusion that something is being done? For all the positive press this announcement is getting, unless the Minnesota Governor plans to outlaw neonics the Executive Order is likely to do little more than prolong the death of Minnesota beekeeping.

The only safe use of neonicotinoids is NO use. Neonicotinoids are the plutonium of pesticides and even if farm use is reduced significantly, one field in ten is enough to cause widespread poisoning of the environment.

Once again we see “habitat improvement” touted, but in my reading of the executive order I see no steps to evaluate the baseline poisoning of the supposed habitat. Take a look at what Mogren and Lundgren found in their buffer plantings.


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District court declines to let EPA off the hook

Seed treatments affect over 200 million acres of agricultural land every year and probably a similar urban and suburban acreage.  Instead of revisiting its failed decision making the EPA chooses to defend those decisions in court.  At  least for life forms at the lower end of the food chain, the massive environmental poisoning with neonicotinoids is a disaster that goes virtually unregulated. While 90% of the usage is as a seed treatment, and while only 5 to 10% of that seed treatment is actually absorbed by the plants, the EPA determines that this is not a pesticide use under the “treated articles exemption.” In other words 80% of the use is unregulated.
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Will feds tighten rules on insecticide-coated seeds?

This article, Feds must tighten rules on insecticide-coated seeds, describes the lawsuit filed in January, 2016 over exemption of neonicotinoid seed coatings from regulation as a pesticide use under the “treated articles exemption.” Consider this: in the face of what may be the most massive poisoning of the environment in history at least for species at the lower level of the food chain, and an avalanche of independent science showing this, what does the EPA do? Revisit their failed decision making and actually do some regulation? Hardly. Instead they choose to defend their failures in court, using your tax dollars and mine.

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Questioning the value of “habitat improvement”

Here is an excellent MPR News story on Christina Mogren and Jonathan Lundgren’s recent research on pollinator protection strips: Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them. It shows the ready mobility of the neonicotinoids and calls into question the value of “habitat improvement” without first assessing the level of poisoning in the habitat to be improved. Minnesota Public Radio reporter Dan Gunderson is to be applauded for his work on this story and others. He has tracked and reported on the problems faced by bees and beekeepers for several years.

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Researchers Jonathan Lundgren and Chrissy Mogren look at a research plot near Brookings, South Dakota on July 31, 2015. Dan Gunderson | MPR News

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