A new study has revealed that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests toward the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 2 miles per year. It doesn't seem like much, but some plants have already been seriously affected.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford, both in Great Britain, shows a strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests.
Currently 10-16% of global crop production lost can be attributed to pests. Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. The diversity of crop pests continues to expand and new strains are continually evolving. Losses of major crops to fungi and fungi-like microorganisms amount to enough to feed nearly nine percent of today's global population. The study suggests that these figures will increase further if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted.
The spread of pests is caused by both human activities and natural processes but is thought to be primarily the result of international freight transportation. The study suggests that the warming climate is allowing pests to become established in previously unsuitable regions.
For example, warming generally stimulates insect herbivory at higher latitudes as seen in outbreaks of the Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) that have destroyed large areas of pine forest in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. In addition, the rice blast fungus, which is present in over 80 countries and has a dramatic effect both on the agricultural economy and ecosystem health, has now moved to wheat. Considered a new disease, wheat blast is sharply reducing wheat yields in Brazil.
"If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms, the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security," states Dr. Dan Bebber, University of Exeter, who is one of the authors of the study.
The study used published observations of the distribution of 612 crop pests collected over the past 50 years. It revealed that the movement of pests north and south towards the poles and into new previously un-colonized regions corresponds to increased temperatures during that period.
Submitted by David Robson; slightly modified from Greenbook.net.
A new Field Crop Manual is available through the PSEP website. Dated November 2013, this manual is an update of the 2004 edition.
Specialists on the University of Illinois campus have revised sections related to IPM, Insects, Weeds, Diseases, and Application Equipment. New pests are identified and discussed, and the publication includes information about the latest in technology for spray applications and calibrations.
Most noticeable is the inclusion of color images for the pests, giving applicators an easy-to-use reference for identifying and controlling the pests.
The new manual, like the other category manuals, costs $15.
Editor's note: News releases such as this remind us that the pesticide regulatory system works to ensure the safety of pesticide users. However, it is unfortunate that these misuse events went on for some time. It is also unfortunate that one of the company's distribution centers is here in Illinois, which increases the odds that Illinois applicators were adversely affected by careless actions. I sometimes joke at training clinics that one should look for the EPA registration number on a pesticide label just to ensure the formulation wasn't created in someone's basement. I'm not sure if a basement was involved or not in this particular case; however, products were being illegally manufactured and sold. In addition, we hear too often that product labels are difficult to read. The article below describes the affected labels as being illegible or missing. What a mess! Hopefully, the damage was minimal. Reportedly, corrective actions have been made. – Michelle Wiesbrook
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced
recently that Harrell's LLC, a pesticide producer based in Lakeland, Fla., has
agreed to pay $1,736,560 in civil penalties for allegedly distributing and
selling misbranded pesticides and other violations of the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The penalty is one of the largest ever for an enforcement case under FIFRA.
"The law requires that pesticides be labeled to help prevent any harm to people and the environment," said Cynthia Giles, EPA's Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Pesticides can be highly toxic to fish and other wildlife and can contaminate our drinking water. Proper labeling is critical to ensure that people know how to use them correctly and safely."
In the settlement, which was approved by EPA's Environmental Appeals Board, the agency alleged that Harrell's violated FIFRA on numerous occasions between 2010 and 2012, allegedly distributing or selling pesticides over 350 times without labels or with labels that were completely illegible. EPA also alleged that the company distributed or sold pesticides in violation of a prior "stop sale" order issued by EPA, and produced large amounts of pesticides over several years at its Alabama facility before registering with EPA. The agency discovered the violations during field inspections conducted in 2012.
The settlement with Harrell requires the company to ensure that its production and distribution centers are operating in compliance with all regulations under FIFRA. The company has corrected all of the violations.
Harrell's produces pesticides at facilities in Sylacauga, Ala. and Lakeland, Fla. and operates distribution centers in Danbury, Conn.; Auburn, Mass.; Lombard, Ill.; New Hudson, Mich.; Homestead, Fla.; Whitestown, Ind.; and in the cities of Butler and York, Pa. Harrell's sells most of its products to golf courses and some to the horticulture, nursery, turf and landscape sectors. The company does not sell products to individual consumers or to retail stores.
In addition to producing its own pesticides, Harrell's also produces and sells pesticides that are registered with EPA by other companies, acting as a "supplemental" distributor. The EPA is focusing national enforcement efforts on these activities because, in many cases, the agency has found that labels on pesticides produced and sold by supplemental distributors often lack critical information required by law, which increases the risk of harm from potential misuse of the product.
The purpose of FIFRA is to ensure that no pesticides are produced, imported, distributed, sold, or used in a manner that pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. Without proper facility registration and reporting, EPA cannot determine where and in what manner pesticides and devices are being produced, sold, and distributed.
The settlement, which is effective immediately, requires that Harrell's pay the penalty within 30 days of the date of EAB filing. The settlement is available at http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/harrells-llc-pesticide-settlement
For more information on EPA regulation of pesticides:
Source: EPA News Story, http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/news/index.html, released December 20, 2013.
The 2014 Illinois Commercial Landscape and Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook is available. This publication provides management recommendations for diseases, weeds, and insect pests associated with trees, shrubs, turf, and flowers for professionals including arborists, turf care professionals, landscapers, golf course personnel, nurserymen, and garden center operators. We strive to provide recommendations that are effective, based on research results, feedback from professionals, and our understanding of the biology of the pests and pesticide mode-of-action.
New handbooks are produced every 2-4 years, with the previous one being published in 2010. This handbook is priced at $19 plus shipping and handling through the University of Illinois PubsPlus website at https://pubsplus.illinois.edu/ICLT-14.html. The handbook is also available at local extension offices, pesticide applicator training clinics, and other extension activities. The price at these locations is likely to reflect the cost of shipping, handling, and sales tax incurred.
Also available are the 2014 Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide and the 2014 Midwest Tree Fruit Spray Guide. Both publications are updated annually by contributors from several Midwestern universities. The guides list recommended materials for the control of common disease and insect pests of tree fruit, grapes, and small fruit grown in Midwestern states. Information from the guides can be used to set up individual spray programs. Print copies of the publications can be purchased through the University of Illinois PubsPlus website. The spray guides are available as a set for $14 or individually for $9.
Genetically modified organisms, GMOs, or transgenic organisms are commonly used throughout the world. Through gene splicing in laboratories, genes from unrelated organisms are implanted into microorganisms, crop plants, and animals for the production of medical compounds, vitamins, increased nutrition, pest control products, pesticide resistance, biological markers, and enhanced growth. Their use has resulted in two opposing camps, one strongly in favor of their use and the other strongly against them.
Proponents of GMOs cite their use as a way to produce medicines more effectively and inexpensively, such as the production of insulin and thyroid hormones by bacteria. Rice and other crops provide lacking vitamins and nutrients to human diets in impoverished areas of the world. Insecticide spraying is reduced with Bacillus thuringiensis genes providing within-plant pest control. Glyphosate, a herbicide less toxic to humans, can be used to control weeds in fields of crops containing tolerance to the herbicide. Experimental animals from mice and rats to fish can be analyzed quicker and more effectively. Salmon and other animals grow faster, producing more meat and other products quicker with less feed.
Opponents of GMOs cite allergic reactions in some people to these products. There are concerns about GMOs showing up in organic and other unmodified crops apparently through cross-pollination and seed contamination. The loss of herbicide effectiveness is cited due to heavy use in GMO crops producing resistant weeds quicker than would normally occur. The environmental impact of heavy use of some herbicides on GMO crops has raised concerns. The almost universal use of GMO crops in some areas also raises concerns of causing insecticide resistance in insects quicker. There are concerns that hormones and nutrition in meat and other products from GMOs might cause problems. Finally, there are concerns that GMOs are unnatural and represent too much human interference even though traditional breeding of crops and domestic animals is accepted.
On January 4, 2014, the New York Times published a very long article on this subject which is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/us/on-hawaii-a-lonely-quest-for-facts-about-gmos.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140105&_r=0. It addresses a county councilperson's research and other efforts associated with a measure to ban GMOs from the island of Hawaii. After diligent efforts to uncover scientific proof to support the ban, it became obvious that his constituency wanted the ban regardless of scientific documentation. As a result, the ban was enacted with the exception of GMO papayas containing virus resistance.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association proposed GMO labeling regulations by the US Food and Drug Administration as reported in an article on January 13, 2014 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/gmo-labeling_n_4591588.html. This is an effort to avoid a patchwork of local and individual state standards that would increase costs to the industry. The lack of identification of GMOs in food and other product labeling has been a major concern of GMO opponents. They feel that consumers should have the right to know that they are consuming them. GMO proponents see the labeling as causing unnecessary and unwarranted concern to consumers.
The USEPA is in the process of revising the WPS (Worker Protection Standard) Rule. A formal reassessment process was started back in 2000. I participated in a few national workshops dedicated to the topic. Little did I know that 14 years later we would still be waiting for the dust to settle and for the final revisions to be determined, but nothing moves quickly in government. Provided here is an EPA update from November 2013. Although, some things may have changed slightly already, this serves as a reminder that progress is being made. Please note the inclusion of a 90-day comment period. Your formal comments will be greatly appreciated when the time arrives. Watch for the announcement in the Federal Register or keep checking with us. The EPA will strive to do massive outreach on the proposed rule to ensure that everyone is aware of the proposed revisions and can comment. Your comments are very important to EPA in re-formulating the final, revised WPS. According to EPA, once the public comment period is closed, EPA could need 1-2 years to consider all the comments and publish the final, revised WPS – thus, the revised rule is not expected to be released until 2015 or more likely 2016. Recently, farmworker advocates have pushed for stronger training requirements. Perhaps their efforts will help to expedite rule changes.
Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (40 CFR 170) Revisions
· Based on significant stakeholder input over the last two decades, EPA is proposing to amend its 1992 agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rule.
· The amended rule would support greater compliance with the product-specific protections on pesticide labeling, and would level the playing field to ensure agricultural workers receive similar protections that workers in other industries receive under OSHA.
· Almost 2 million workers, mostly Hispanic, would benefit from the rule. The Agency has estimated a reduction in acute incidents of nearly 2,800 incidents per year if the rule is implemented as proposed. In addition, chronic exposure to pesticides has been associated with cancers, neurological disorders, and respiratory problems later in life.
· About 400,000 agricultural establishments (farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses) would be covered by the rule requirements.
· The proposal is reorganized to make it easier for farmers to understand and follow, and it has elements intended to reduce costs to agricultural establishments.
· The proposals complement each other and the resulting benefits are derived from implementation of the whole package.
· EPA also has cooperative agreements to support farmworker training (with AFOP, an Alliance member) and farmworker health (with the Migrant Clinicians Network.)
Current Status of Rulemaking
· Under OMB (Office of Management and Budget) review; expected completion - January 2014
· Publication of proposed rulemaking for public comment - estimated for Spring 2014
· 90-day public comment period
· Amend rule based on public comment; publish final
Key Proposed Changes
Pesticide Safety Training
Increased frequency of pesticide safety training
Expand training content
Improve quality of training
Provide better information to workers entering while REI is in effect
Require recordkeeping of notification
Establish minimum age requirements for high-risk activities
Require OSHA-comparable hazard communications
Retain hazard communications records
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Respirators & Closed Systems
Require OSHA-comparable protections for respirator wearers
Add specific performance standard requirements for closed systems
Michelle Wiesbrook; Source: EPA emails and updates