Archive for August 20, 2008

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, August 19, 2008
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to disclose records about a new class of pesticides that could be playing a role in the disappearance of millions of honeybees in the United States, a lawsuit filed Monday charges.

The Natural Resources Defense Council wants to see the studies that the EPA required when it approved a pesticide made by Bayer CropScience five years ago.

The environmental group filed the suit as part of an effort to find out how diligently the EPA is protecting honeybees from dangerous pesticides, said Aaron Colangelo, a lawyer for the group in Washington.
In the last two years, beekeepers have reported unexplained losses of hives – 30 percent and upward – leading to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. Scientists believe that the decline in bees is linked to an onslaught of pesticides, mites, parasites and viruses, as well as a loss of habitat and food.

$15 billion in crops
Bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet, $15 billion worth of U.S. crops, including almonds in California, blueberries in Maine, cucumbers in North Carolina and 85 other commercial crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not finding a cause of the collapse could prove costly, scientists warn.
Representatives of the EPA said they hadn’t seen the suit and couldn’t comment.

Clothianidin is the pesticide at the center of controversy. It is used to coat corn, sugar beet and sorghum seeds and is part of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The pesticide was blamed for bee deaths in France and Germany, which also is dealing with a colony collapse. Those two countries have suspended its use until further study. An EPA fact sheet from 2003 says clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other pollinators, through residues in nectar and pollen.

The EPA granted conditional registration for clothianidin in 2003 and at the same time required that Bayer CropScience submit studies on chronic exposure to honeybees, including a complete worker bee lifecycle study as well as an evaluation of exposure and effects to the queen, the group said. The queen, necessary for a colony, lives a few years; the workers live only six weeks, but there is no honey without them.
“The public has no idea whether those studies have been submitted to the EPA or not and, if so, what they show. Maybe they never came in. Maybe they came in, and they show a real problem for bees. Maybe they’re poorly conducted studies that don’t satisfy EPA’s requirement,” Colangelo said.

Request for records
On July 17, after getting no response from the EPA about securing the studies, the environmental group filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which requires the records within 20 business days absent unusual circumstances.

When the federal agency missed the August deadline, the group filed the lawsuit, asking the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to force the EPA to turn over the records.

Greg Coffey, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience in Research Triangle Park, N.C., said controlled field studies have demonstrated that clothianidin, when used correctly, will not harm bees. He added that all of EPA’s requirements for conditional registration of clothianidin have been submitted to the agency.
An EPA spokesman, Dale Kemery, said the agency couldn’t comment on the documents required under the conditional registration because the matter is the subject of litigation.

Unusual circumstances
Generally, the EPA has taken the position that the bee deaths occurred under unusual circumstances. In Germany, the corn lacked a seed coating that ensured that the pesticide stuck to the seed, and equipment blew the pesticide into a nearby canola field where bees fed.

The EPA is “reasonably confident” that a bee kill similar to Germany’s wouldn’t happen in the United States because use is restricted to commercial applicators who use stickier coatings, according to Kemery.
But because the stickier coatings aren’t required, Kemery said, the EPA will review its policies on seed-treatment labels.

In California, according to the 2006 Pesticide Use Report Summary, about 3 pounds of clothianidin was used, all on corn. Other members of the neonicotinoid class, registered for a longer period of time, have been used more frequently, including 127,000 pounds on broccoli, grapes, lettuce and oranges. Some pesticides were used in buildings.

“We’ve been monitoring the bee die-off situation for a couple of years, and it’s a complex puzzle that may also involve mites, viruses and other factors,” said Glenn Brank, communications director for the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The agency is conducting its own review of environmental data from registered neonicotinoid pesticides as well as watching enforcement reports from counties for any unusual environmental incidents involving bees, he said. None was noted, Brank said.
Scientists presenting at the American Chemical Society national meeting Monday reported that dozens of pesticides had been found in samples of adult bees, broods, pollen and wax collected from honeybee colonies suspected to have died from symptoms of colony collapse disorder, including some neonicotinoids.

Entomologist Gabriela Chavarria, director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Science Center, said over the years bees have had to withstand devastating problems.
Bees pick up deadly farm and home chemicals when they visit flowers, or encounter chemical drift from aerial and other applications. Fifteen years ago, queen bees imported from China brought varroa mites that attacked broods of worker bees. Microscopic tracheal mites invade the hives.
And now the new pesticide, clothianidin, is another problem, Chavarria said. Scientists must find out whether the toxicity has been sufficiently studied, she said.

“We want this information now. We cannot continue to wait. Bees are disappearing. Our whole existence depends on them because we eat. The flowers need to be pollinated, and the only ones to do it are the bees.”

Colony collapse
Honeybees, which pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocados, began abandoning their colonies in 2006, destroying about a third of their hives.
Since then, their numbers have not improved. A survey of beekeepers in the fall and winter 2007 by the Bee Research Lab and the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that beekeepers lost about 35 percent of their hives compared with 31 percent in 2006.

See also:
·        Mass death of bees in Germany: Approval of Bayer´s pesticide Poncho suspended
·        The Guardian: Germany bans chemicals linked to honeybee devastation
·        Sierra Club urges EPA to suspend nicotinyl insecticides:
·        Press Release of the Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (German):
·        Bee-keepers and environmental groups demand prohibition of pesticide “Gaucho”
·        French Institutes Finds Imidaproclid Turning Up in Wide Range of Crops
2003 report from the “Comité Scientifique et Technique de l’Etude Multifactorielle des Troubles des Abeilles”


Source: WRAL

A single microscopic feather listed in an SBI crime lab report could be the key to proving that Mike Peterson was not responsible for the staircase death of his wife nearly seven years ago, an attorney and former neighbor of the Durham novelist says.

Larry Pollard says he believes an owl, possibly mistaking Kathleen Peterson as prey, could have attacked the 120-pound, 47-year-old as she walked from her swimming pool to her kitchen on that warm December night in 2001.

It’s possible, he says, the owl swooped down, became entangled in Peterson’s hair as she pulled on it, and caused multiple bruises and wounds on her face, wrists and arms as well as seven distinct wounds on the back of her scalp, including two tri-pronged lacerations likened to the bird’s razor-sharp talons. (Watch the full interview.)

“The key thing about this feather is not the fact that we found a feather but the fact of where it was located when we found it,” Pollard said. “This feather is located, entwined in Kathleen Peterson’s hair, and it is clutched in her left hand in the hair that was pulled out of the root from the ball of her head.”

Read the entire story here

I attended last night’s Obama Town Hall in Raleigh and I have to say while I do not feel it was one of his strongest speeches, seeing the man in person is something I hope everyone gets a chance to experience. The energy in the crowd was one of excitement and desire, a desire for change and a renewed sense of hope for a country that has been beaten and battered by an abusive, criminally corrupt administration.

A memorable moment for me in the evening was during the Q&A session. A disabled veteran rose to ask a question and then stated he lived in a homeless shelter, needless to say that realization really upset the audience. “Is this supporting our troops, I want no part of it” shouted a gentleman behind me. Obama quickly pointed out that we have to give our veterans services and support from day One. This is a “fundamental right for all of our servicemen and women” who defend our country. The current administration and it’s minions have neglected and forgotten the very people they claim to support.

Sadly it made me think about all of the men and women who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan a mere fragment of the soldiers that went there. This lead me to research for myself what McCain’s record was in regards to military support and veteran benefits. I mean after all the man a highly decorated veteran, so surely he is making sure our troops are receving the services and equipment they deserve, right. Wrong what I found shocked me to the core. See for yourself here, here, here, here and here.

Consider just a few votes by John McCain against veterans, Source: Capital Hill Blues

McCain voted against an amendment providing $20 billion for VA medical facilities [5/4/06]

McCain voted against providing $430 million to the VA for outpatient care and treatment for veterans [4/26/06]

McCain voted against increasing VA funding by $1.5 billion by closing corporate loopholes [3/14/06]

McCain voted against increasing VA funding by $1.8 billion by ending abusive tax loopholes [3/10/04]

The man even voted against giving combat duty troops more time at home between extended tours.

Keith Obermann sorts out McCain voting record in more detail.

Then consider today’s statement made by John McCain’s that “he doesn’t disagree that we would need a military draft to do everything he wants” sent me over the edge. From “At a town hall in Las Cruces, NM, a woman said she could not see doing everything McCain wanted, and would not have the troops under his plan to follow Osama bin Laden to the “gates of hell” without a draft.  In response, McCain said, “I don’t disagree with anything you said.”

So if you want a draft then “More War McCain” is the president for you. After all that is what good loyal NeoCon PNACers do very well. For me I’m doing everything I can to see to it that he never get’s that honor.

My opinion of McCain:

Well sorta, this one seemed fitting with the Olympics taking place, for this weeks email funny. Although there are certainly some ouch moments in this one. When did become okay to toss a guy over a bridge during a bike race? It should have been named “Going for the ER”.

Hat/Tip MB

Source: Martha Rosenberg – OpEdNews

Scratch the surface of a food offender whether they abuse the environment, workers, animals, the public trust or public funds and you usually find they are repeat offenders.

Nebraska Beef, the Omaha, NE-based supplier Whole Foods says it didn’t know its supplier Coleman Natural Foods was using (right) recalled more than 5 million pounds of beef to other customers in seven states weeks before the Whole Foods recall of 1.2 million pounds that sickened seven.

In 2002 and 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shut Nebraska Beef down three times for feces on carcasses, water dripping off pipes onto meat, paint peeling onto equipment and other hygienic embellishments.

And in 2004 and 2005, Nebraska Beef was cited five times for failing to remove potentially mad cow-infected spinal cords and heads from its products–changing the store’s moniker from Whole Paycheck to Whole Head.

Then there’s the pride of Arkansas, Tyson Foods, where the chicken is cheap and the fish are dead.

Tyson was barely off probation for 20 federal violations of the Clean Water Act in 2003 when it was called back to a Tulsa, OK courtroom for polluting the Illinois River watershed this spring.

In the last year Tyson was also fined $339,500 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety and health violations at its Noel, MO plant, charged by shareholders and Amalgamated Bank with spring-loading $4.5 million in options and forbidden by the Department of Agriculture from terming its ionophores-grown chickens “raised without antibiotics.”

No wonder Tyson is gravitating toward China which won’t notice a little chicken effluvium in its water.

Then there’s the former DeCoster Egg Farms, now Maine Contract Farming LLC, where nose plugs and flyswatters have been the de facto new neighbor kit for thirty years.

In August, OSHA cited Maine Contract Farming in Turner, ME with sending workers into a partially collapsed building at the same site where workers were found living in rat and sewage infested company housing and handling manure and dead chickens with their bare hands in 1996.

Last year, five years after owner Austin “Jack” DeCoster pled guilty to “the continued employment of illegal immigrants,” federal immigration agents arrested 51 workers at the DeCoster egg processing plant near Clarion, IA the site where an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit says Mexican women workers were raped at knifepoint in 2001.

And then there’s Northfield, MN-based Holden Farms Inc., which let 400 sows and an undetermined amount of piglets burn to death at its Dexter, MN facility in July–just a year and a half after 5,000 trapped pigs burned to death at its Northfield operation while firemen were unable to breach the confinement structures used on factory farms.

Read entire story here

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