Current Issues & Insights
The herbicide 2,4-D widely-used in combination products is designed to kill broad-leaf plants. It can also adversely impact animals as our accompanying report details. Due to the importance of pollinators and their declining numbers, 2,4-D’s potential hazard to bees deserves urgent attention.
Data on 2,4-D’s toxicity to bees is sparse but suggests that these valuable insects may harbor a particular sensitivity to the herbicide favored by many conventional landscapers.
A survey of apiaries linked 2,4-D to bee deaths. A laboratory study linked 2,4-D with bee heart muscle malfunctions.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently cancelled a combination product consisting of glyphosate (aka Roundup) & 2,4-D due to evidence that acting together these herbicides could be more hazardous to non-target species than the predicted additive effect of their individual toxicities.
We recommend that regulators give prompt, serious emphasis to profiling how exposure to 2,4-D alone and in combination with other herbicides could adversely impact bees. In view of the recognized hazards to various non-target species from 2,4-D we strongly recommend avoiding use of this herbicide in areas designated for people, pollinators, desirable plants and wildlife.
As seen from Rachel’s windows, three different kinds of milkweed (Asclepias) are growing vigorously on the landmark property where Silent Spring was written. Each one of them could serve as a host plant for the Monarch butterfly, supporting development of this iconic insect from an egg to an adult. Although experiencing greatly diminished numbers, Monarchs can still be observed along the east coast of the US during late summer and into the fall of the year. The Monarch population has been reduced by 90% largely due to agricultural practices that remove milkweed plants in the course of growing GMO crops and using broad-spectrum herbicides.
The Obama Administration has given Monarch restoration a high priority, and raised awareness of the need to grow milkweed plants nationwide. (Background details are found below in RCLA’s “Monarchs, Milkweed, Flowering Plants, Pesticides and People,”)
Three memorable encounters with these amazing migratory insects over a 50 year time span are described in “Mindful of Monarchs” Click here for complete article
The article, “USDA study concludes neonics not driving bee deaths – As White House set to announce ‘bee revival’ plan'” by Jon Entine was placed on a community list serve by a Master Gardener apparently in support of the neonicotinoid (aka: neonic) insecticide, Imidacloprid. When we at RCLA were asked to give an opinion on the article, it raised red flags due to the presence of several sweeping statements indicating Imidacloprid to be harmless for honeybees. Entine credited these findings to research published in (as he calls it) “PLOS ONE” but no reference was given. The Entine statements contradicted information in the scientific publication in PLoS ONE, with a publication date 5 days prior to the Entine article’s date. In contrast to the Entine article’s claim of no problem at any Imidacloprid dose level; the Dively, et al. publication found that Imidacloprid was associated with increased parasite numbers at all exposure levels and significant adverse effects to honey bees at the two upper level doses.
Entine’s article might very well give list serve readers the impression that Imidacloprid can be used around honey bees even at high levels without the risk of potential problems. This would be wrong as the fact checking by RCLA discovered. Click here for full article.
President Obama and many Americans have become concerned about the drastically reduced Monarch butterfly population-devastated in large measure by widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate (as Roundup). Glyphosate is used to control weeds in the biotechnology-based GMO monoculture farming system. Under this industrial, unsustainable agricultural practice, milkweed plants vital to the Monarch’s life cycle have been eliminated from 100 million acres of US land. Discussed in detail in the article’s text are plans for growing milkweed and certain flowering plants that benefit Monarchs, to help restore the species’ numbers.
In addition to growing Monarch-friendly plants, to help reverse this iconic butterfly’s population decline, what actions can we take? Step 1-Be certain that all of your purchased plants and your garden areas intended for Monarchs remain free of any pesticides. Step 2-Choose to avoid GMO-grown products by buying organic. Step 3-Voice objections to GMO-monoculture growing practices and support labeling of GMO-produced food and fiber products. For full article click here
From the WHO World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
On March 20, 2015 IARC released a report (Monograph 112) assessing the carcinogenicity of 5 pesticides (glyphosate, diazinon, tetrachlorvinphos and parathion). Click here for full article
The January 15, 2015 hearing for Montgomery County, Maryland’s Bill 52-14 prohibiting certain pesticides for cosmetic use on residential lawns and Montgomery County property in order to protect health of residents and pollinators was a standing room only event. RCLA’s president Dr. Diana Post spoke in support of Bill 52-14 and submitted written testimony. The full text of her testimony is available as part of RCLA’s Alliance for Awareness program. Click here for full article
This year, 2015, presents a special opportunity to restore Rachel Carson’s sense of wonder and call attention to her sense of the wild, both are needed now more than ever. Here we consider both “senses” and offer activities to celebrate their importance. Click here for full article
This includes a list of current announcements from government and business sources showing greater concern for protection of pollinators and Monarch butterflies. It also provides summaries of two recent science-based publications that link pesticide use to pollinator decline and recommends reducing the level of pesticide use to protect pollinators. Presented at PAC MD Dept of Ag, Annapolis, MD, July 23, 2014. Click here for full article
This discusses reasons for choosing organically-grown food, restoring habitat for Monarch butterflies, avoiding chemcical pesticides on ornamental landscapes, and focusing on pesticide hazards to wildlife. it provides 6 recommendations for citizen action. Click here for full article
Written for distribution at RCLA’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s passing (April 14) we discuss her link to the Monarch butterflies that migrate in the fall from Canada along the east coast passing through Maine and Maryland in their annual journey to reach their wintering site in Mexico. Nationally, April 14, 2014 was designated as a day of action encouraging citizens to remember Rachel and to cultivate milkweed plants and work for restoration of Monarch butterflies in her memory. RCLA distributed milkweed seeds for this purpose at our Remembrance Event. Click here for full article
Announcing the 2016 Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild Contest!
Entries can focus on either of two themes:
Show Your Sense of Wonder. Entries should express the Sense of Wonder your intergenerational team feels for the beauty of natural surroundings, as near as your backyard or as far away as the night sky.
Show Your Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild. Entries should express your intergenerational team’s appreciation of and wonder for a natural (wild) plant or animal in its own ecosystem performing a benefit for a person, group, society, or the Earth. Such beneficial activities make possible the survival of their species as well as our own.
Winners: Winners in each of the 6 “Sense of Wonder” categories and the 6 “Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild” categories will receive an award from the Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance, and some of the submissions will be featured on the RCLA website. Winners will be announced on December 1, 2016.
Deadline for entries is October 15, 2016.
For full details about this contest, including specific entry rules, click here.
2015 Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder Contest Winners Announced!
For complete Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild Contest Winners 2015 click here
The following entries have been awarded first place in their respective categories:
Essay – Sense of Wonder
Briana, age 15; Catherine, age 53
Title of Essay: “True Natural Beauty”
Essay – Sense of Wonder/Wild
Lauren, age 16; Holly, age 45
Title of Essay: “Bees: Essential to Life on Earth”
Poem – Sense of Wonder – TWO WINNERS!
Sydney, age 16; Patrick, age 49
Title of Poem: “Sense of Wonder”
Katrianna, age 15; Kathleen, age 36
Title of Poem: “Lands of Mystery”
Mixed Media (Photograph and Poem) – Sense of Wonder/Wild
Anika, age 3, Atara, Porter, Noa, ages 3-4; Barbara, age 84
Title of Photograph: “Smelling Coneflowers”
Title of Poem: “The Honey Bee”
Photograph – Sense of Wonder/Wild
Ellie, age 13; Lisa, age 42
Title of Photograph: “Making a New Friend”
Artwork – Sense of Wonder/Wild
Naledi, age 11; Nicky, age 53
Title of Artwork: “Tofo Bay Diversity – Celebrating Nature in Africa”
Artwork – Sense of Wonder/Wild
Gabriel, age 2; Graham, age 8; Theresa, age 47
Title of Artwork: “Butterfly Window”
Thanks to ALL teams who entered the contest! We applaud your interest in and commitment to Rachel Carson’s legacy and the Environment, and we hope all of you will continue to help contribute to environmental education in whatever way you can.
Experiencing Spring: Then and Now
2015 Rachel Carson Open House
RCLA’s lively 2015 Rachel Carson Open House offered our 80 visitors such varied options as: dynamic speakers exploring environmental topics in clear, familiar language, a talented musician/entertainer performing earth songs, and of course the opportunity to share ideas with informed, friendly people. Also, we hosted an organically-grown native plant sale, delightful ecological crafts for children and parents as well as a buffet of delicious organic treats. Click here for Experiencing Spring Then and Now/2015 Rachel Carson Open House Overview.
Memo addressing Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner’s
opposition to Bill 52-14
Councilmember Roger Berliner’s opposition to Bill 52-14 proposed by Council President George Leventhal, “To Prohibit Use of Certain Chemical Pesticides on Lawns and Certain County-Owned Property in Order to Better Protect Sensitive Human and Pollinator Populations:” A Story of Two Letters. Click here for details
Here’s a great way to remember Rachel Carson on her birthday and beyond.
RCLA Native Plant Mini-List
Listing of some of many plants native to the Mid-Atlantic area, which when in bloom, provide nectar and pollen to insects. Some of them also host plants to the larvae of butterflies and other insects.
Make Your Mark—Take Action
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the
wonders and realities of the universe about us,
the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
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