Tag Archives: pesticides

Bayer preparing for thousands of Roundup lawsuits

Following the successful lawsuit against Monsanto in California in August in which a jury ruled that a former groundskeeper’s cancer was caused by Roundup, and that the company knowingly withheld information about the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate, industry analysts are warning that Bayer is now bracing itself for thousands of future claims.

German-based acquired Monsanto earlier this year for $63 billion and according to Reuters, the company faces years of legal activity with some 8,000 lawsuits currently being brought against Monsanto, much higher than the 5,200 cases previously disclosed by Bayer in June.

“The number of plaintiffs in both state and federal litigation is approximately 8,000 as of end-July. These numbers may rise or fall over time but our view is that the number is not indicative of the merits of the plaintiffs’ cases,” Bayer’s chief executive Werner Baumann admitted to analysts in a conference call.

The lawsuits are also pulling in food manufacturers, with General Mills having to remove a claim about the use of ‘100% natural whole grain oats’ in its Nature Valley brand cereal bars.

Photo Caption: Bayer could face years of legal action in the United States after its acquisition of Roundup manufacturer Monsanto

Photo Credit: Flickr

The post Bayer preparing for thousands of Roundup lawsuits appeared first on Hort News on 30 August 2018.

Next generation of pesticides could be harmful to bees

Hopes for a new family of agricultural insecticides with little impact on non-target species, such as bees, may suffer a setback as researchers claim that they could pose similar risks to pollinating insects.

Sulfoximines have been promoted as the next generation of pest control chemicals, with a number of products already gaining approval around the world in countries including China, Canada and Australia. However, research published in the journal Naturesuggests that they could cause non-lethal effects in bees which may have unintended consequences.

One of the scientists behind the paper, Dr Ellouise Leadbeater of Royal Holloway, University of London, told the BBC: “Our study highlights that stressors that do not directly kill bees can still have damaging effects further down the line, because the health of the colony depends on the health of its workforce.”

Friends of the Earth pesticide campaigner Sandara Bell commented, “This study shows that replacing one harmful pesticide with another is not the solution to protecting our crops.” However, the NFU said that it was vital that farmers and growers had ‘an effective crop protection toolbox available to combat pests and allow them to produce food for the public.’

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Next generation of pesticides could be harmful to bees appeared first on Hort News on 30 August 2018.

Could micro magnets detect pesticides?

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a novel way of detecting pesticide residues in fruit and veg – ‘micro magnets.’

The scientists developed a rapid and highly sensitive screening technique capable of detecting minute amounts of pyrethroids, and say their new method can reduce the screening period for the chemical to less than two hours.

Assistant Professor Yang Hongshun and his PhD student Miss Yu Xi developed polystyrene coated magnetic nanoparticles which can effectively extract pyrethorid residue from vegetable crops for analysis via simple magnetic separation. The nanoparticles are first added into a liquid sample obtained from vegetables, serving as ‘micro magnets’ to attract pyrethroid molecules. Pyrethroids bound on the nanoparticles are then washed off by a small amount of organic solvent and collected for analysis.

This innovation allows analysis to be completed in less than two hours, and is able to detect pyrethroids at a concentration level of as low as 0.02 nanograms per gram of vegetables. The nanoparticles can also be reused up to 30 times.

Yang, said, “Existing screening methods require long processing time and hence it could be challenging to apply such methods to detect pesticide residue in a large batch of samples, which is vital to ensuring food safety. Our method therefore offers a faster and more effective alternative.”

He added that the next stage is to detect pyrethroids in other foodstuffs, as well as looking to detect other types of pesticide and chemicals including mycotoxins and antibiotics.

Photo Credit: National University of Singapore

The post Could micro magnets detect pesticides? appeared first on Hort News on 5 April 2018.

Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees

Researchers at America’s University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that when given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone.

“People assume that fungicides affect only fungi,” said University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum, who led the new research. “But fungi are much more closely related to animals than they are to plants. And toxins that disrupt physiological processes in fungi can also potentially affect them in animals, including insects.”

To test whether foraging honey bees showed a preference for other chemicals they are likely to encounter in the wild, two feeding stations were set up in large enclosure. Foraging honey bees could fly freely from one feeder to the other, choosing to collect either sugar syrup laced with a test chemical or sugar syrup mixed with a solvent as the control.

Over the course of the study honey bees preferred the naturally occurring chemical quercetin, which is found in pollen and nectar, over controls at all concentrations tested. The bees also preferred sugar syrup laced with glyphosate at 10 parts per billion, but not at higher concentrations. While the bees actively avoided syrup containing the fungicide prochloraz, they showed a mild preference for sugar syrup laced with chlorothalonil at 0.5 and 50 parts per billion, but not at 500 ppb.

“The dose determines the poison,” Berenbaum added. “If your ability to metabolize poisons is compromised, then a therapeutic dose can become a toxic dose. And that seems to be what happens when honey bees encounter multiple pesticides.”

Photo Credit: Pexels

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New training course on minimising pesticide residues

Ian Finlayson, CEO of Practical Solutions International Ltd, is to run a new course for horticultural training provider ARTIS on managing pesticide residues in fresh produce.

Ian, who has extensive technical experience in the industry, served as a member of the government’s advisory Pesticide Residue Committee for seven years. The next course will be run in Cambridge in November, and will cover topics such as the principles of pesticide residue testing, designing a residue testing programme, and sampling for laboratory analysis. As well as covering UK and EU legislation, the course also looks at areas such as risk assessment, best practice and managing ‘restricted lists’.

John Owles, Sainsbury’s Technical Manager for East Africa, who attended a previous course, said, “The course was very relevant to the ever-changing requirements in the industry, and provided an excellent up-date as well as a refresher of the requirements needed for Maximum Residue Levels in a very understandable way.”

More details can be found here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The post New training course on minimising pesticide residues appeared first on Hort News on 5 Oct 2017.

France won’t back glyphosate renewal

According to Reuters, a French environment official has confirmed that the country will oppose extending a licence for glyphosate at an EU level.

“France will vote against the reauthorisation of glyphosate due to the doubts that remain about its dangerousness,” the news agency reported. EU member states are due to vote on a licence extension on 4 October, but without French backing, renewal could be blocked. France and Germany have abstained in previous votes.

In May the European Commission proposed a ten-year extension to glyphosate’s licence after a study by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) said the chemical should not be classified as a carcinogen.

Sarah Mukherjee, of the Crop Protection Association, commented, “These reported comments are at odds with the robust body of scientific evidence and the opinion of expert regulators around the world, backed by 40 years of use, which clearly demonstrate that glyphosate is safe. The loss of this vital tool would not only impact on the ability of farmers to provide healthy, safe and affordable food, but also have unintended environmental consequences through limiting farmers’ ability to use no till methods.” Studies suggest that the loss of glyphosate would cost the French economy between £850 and 930 million in terms of GDP.

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New fears over use of sulphur for crop protection

A new study has linked the spraying of elemental sulphur for crop protection with asthma and breathing difficulties.

The chemical, which is widely used of strawberries to control mildew and other fungal diseases, is currently approved for use on organic crops as it is deemed to be a ‘natural’ substance. However, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who studied children living in the Salinas area of California found a link between lung function, more asthma-related symptoms and higher asthma medication use in children living less than a mile from recent elemental sulphur applications compared to unexposed children.

Co-author of the study, Asa Bradman, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said, “Sulphur is widely used because it is effective and low in toxicity to people.

“It is naturally present in our food and soil and is part of normal human biochemistry, but breathing in sulphur dust can irritate airways and cause coughing. We need to better understand how people are exposed to sulphur used in agriculture and how to mitigate exposures. Formulations using wettable powders could be a solution.”

 Photo Caption: Researchers studied children living in California’s Salinas Valley.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Netherlands publishes atlas for pesticides in groundwater

The Netherlands has recently published a new Groundwater Atlas for Pesticides, which will be used by the Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb) to monitor groundwater quality.

The Groundwater Atlas was developed between 2015 and 2016 and commissioned by the ministries of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and the Environment. Other organisations which have been involved more recently include Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), who have coordinated the data provided by the water companies. Alterra was responsible for monitoring the quality and consistency of all of the data in the atlas.

In the Netherlands, groundwater is sampled from thousands of sites and tested by the provinces and by water companies. This first version of the Groundwater Atlas uses a list of active ingredients and metabolites of plant protection products and biocides and uses the same system of product identification used for plant protection product approval in the Netherlands.

Photo Credit: Wageningen University & Research

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Breakthrough in environmentally friendly pesticides

A ‘new generation’ of environmentally friendly pesticides is a step closer thanks to researchers and an insect-killing fungus.

Molecular virologists Dr Robert Coutts from the University of Hertfordshire and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou from Imperial College London are investigating the potential of Beauveria bassiana as an environmentally friendly bio-insecticide

B. bassiana, which is found naturally in soil and on some plants, can kill a wide range of insects, including whiteflies, aphids, grasshoppers and termites, by infecting them with its spores. Unlike some other fungal insecticides, the work is specifically researching the viral community of B. bassiana. This has lead to the discovery that certain mycoviruses (viruses that infect fungi) cause hypervirulence and increase mycoinsecticidal efficiency.

Dr Coutts said, “This discovery is potentially transformational for the sector and could elevate the profile of B. bassiana as one of the most environmentally friendly pest control agents for farmers today. This would safeguard ecosystems internationally, especially where the use of chemical insecticides is particularly prevalent. By using viruses as enhancers we will create a new generation of improved mycoinsecticides, increasing the quality of global food production and reducing the environmental impact.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

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Bumblebees could deliver organic pesticides

A Vancouver-based start-up has plans to use bumblebees, already many growers best friend, to deliver natural pesticides and beneficial fungi directly to plants.

The company aims to commercialise technology developed by researchers at the University of Guelph. This uses a tray filled with a patented mix of natural, beneficial microbes, which is then placed into the beehives placed in the crops for pollination.

“Imagine you have an apple orchard,” said Michael Collinson, president and CEO of Bee Vectoring Technology. “Because apple trees have a very large canopy, even though you may spray it and use a special type of spray that doesn’t go everywhere, you still won’t touch every bloom. Whereas the bees deliver product every single day, to every single bloom.”

The company says it has conducted extensive testing to make sure the process is safe for bees and uses materials in the powder that bees would naturally come across. “The bees are actually already carrying it, but they don’t carry it that often,” adds Collinson. “So what we’re doing as a company, what happens once in a while in nature, we’re making it happen consistently.”

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