Rachel Carson is an intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking books revolutionized our relationship to the natural world. When Silent Spring was published in September 1962 it became an instant bestseller and would go on to spark dramatic changes in the way the government regulated pesticides.
Rachel Carson premieres January 24 at 8/7c on PBS.
The dangers of glyphosate (Roundup) in our food supply are clear and present. Why are industry and government not acting as they should? Just as was the case in the 1950s with DDT and tobacco, we are on the brink of disastrous damage to health worldwide. This short film begins to explain why, and what we can do.
Find more Earth Focus content at https://www.linktv.org/earthfocus
(Earth Focus: Episode 69) Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They’ve been linked to the decline of honeybees. But scientists now say they also harm many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine invertebrates. They damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They kill off the insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles rely on for food. According to Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society, through the widespread use of these pesticides “we are killing the underpinning of the food chain.” In human blood studies, neonicotinoids are linked to DNA damage and cell mutation.
Neonicotinoids command 30% of the global insecticide market with sales of over $2.6 billion in 2009. Manufacturers argue that their pest-fighting power is indispensable to agriculture. They were introduced in the 1990s to replace more damaging insecticides. They are systemic and absorbed by the plant, making all parts of the plant — including nectar and pollen — toxic to pests.
Neonicotinoids are widely used as seed treatments, applied as soil drench, or sprayed onto foliage. In the US, they are used on some 200 million acres of crop land — on almost all corn, canola, and half of all soybean crops as well as on many fruits and vegetables. They are also extensively used in home and garden products. They are persistent, water soluble, and now found in stream samples across the United States and Canada.
“We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT,” says Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin. Dr. Bonmatin is the lead author of an analysis of 800 peer-reviewed reports on the risk of neonicotinoids (and the systemic pesticide fipronil) completed in October 2014 by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, a group of independent scientists from 15 countries. DDT was widely promoted for pest control in the US after World War II but was subsequently banned due to both environmental and human health concerns.
From Earth Focus/LinkTV: Honeybees, the essential pollinators of many of our major crops have been dying of in massive numbers since 2006. This threatens the US agricultural system and the one in twelve American jobs that depends on it. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides — nerve toxins called neonicotinoids — used on most US crops including almost all corn — may be toxic to bees. The US Environmental Protection Agency allowed neonicotinoids on the market without adequate tests to determine their toxicity to bees. Environmentalists want neonicotinoids banned until needed safety tests are done. While the US government is slow to act and neonicotinoid sales reap billions for the chemical industry, bees continue to die.
On November 22, 2016, officials from The Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency ( PMRA ) which is responsible for pesticide regulation in Canada, held a media technical briefing by teleconference about neonicotinoid pesticides.
The row over neonicotinoids has taken a new twist with leaked documents suggesting an outright EU-wide ban on their use in field crops. Damian Carrington of The Guardian has seen the unpublished European Commission documents and thinks the controversial pesticides could be outlawed by the end of the year.
The village pub has always been popular but now researchers say there is proof that a rural watering-hole has positive effects on the community. A team from Newcastle Business School and Leeds University looked at 300 parishes and discovered better social cohesion if there was a local pub. The findings are being welcomed by campaigners in the Yorkshire village of Kirkby Malzeard who are campaigning for the re-opening of a favourite hostelry.
The clocks have gone forward and spring is in the air. traditionally this is the time of year when farming gets underway again in earnest. But some farmers, particularly in East Anglia and the North of England, say wet conditions are hampering work on arable fields and delaying spring grazing for livestock.
Presented by Charlotte Smith.
Produced by Vernon Harwood.
See news report by the BBC’s Environment Correspondent – Matt McGraw
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
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