March 7, 2016
Like many nature lovers and gardeners, last year I launched a milkweed garden for monarch butterflies, starting from seed. After a long summer of manually picking pesky milkweed bugs and aphids off the plants, I noticed one monarch caterpillar. Success! I hope that caterpillar made it to the butterfly stage, and then took off to Mexico where many monarchs overwinter.
My efforts represent a tiny part of a larger effort to save these butterflies through private conservation, whose numbers have dwindled in recent decades. Such efforts may have begun to pay off as the...
February 4, 2016
The spread of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus should be yet another wake-up call for public officials around the world. As a relatively new threat, Zika has captured headlines in a world where many insect-transmitted diseases continue to wreak havoc on public health. Unfortunately, the ability to control all such vector-borne diseases is hindered by more than our limited scientific understanding. Disease control is limited by the lack of political will to use all tools in our arsenal, including politically incorrect pesticides.
Zika has long been known to cause mild infections and rashes, but health officials are now investigating the possibility that it can cause birth defects when mothers are infected during pregnancy. The disease appeared in Brazil last spring and during 2015,...
October 19, 2015
With reform to nation’s chemical law—the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)—basically around the corner, groups from both left and right are commenting on why we need reform and for some, why the current proposals should pass quickly. But the reasons they offer aren’t very compelling.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) exclaims in a press release:
Our nation’s chemical safety laws are outdated. Without reform, we’ll likely see a continued proliferation of costly and ineffective state-based chemical regulatory programs that confuse consumers and manufacturers alike. Congress must restore the public’s confidence in EPA’s chemical control laws, and one way...
August 4, 2015
Often spoon-fed alarmist hype by green activist groups, reporters rarely get the science right about the risks associated with trace chemicals found in consumer products. Accordingly, kudos go to the author of a piece published on Fox News (originally published on Health.com), which debunks activist-generated misinformation about chemicals used to make sunscreens. In the past, I have pointed out that Fox News has blindly reported misinformation pushed by greens, particularly the ...
August 3, 2015
After more than a decade of panicked reports about honeybees disappearing and potentially going extinct because of a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder,” The Washington Post reported last week that the number of hives in the United States has reached a 20 year high. At the same time, I was making presentation at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, explaining that globally, there are more beehives today than there were in 1961,...
June 24, 2015
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of TSCA reform (H.R. 2576) by a roll call vote of 398 in favor, one opposed, and 34 members not voting. Yesterday, I lamented the fact that this bill was pushed through under suspension of the rules, which is supposed to be for low-cost, non-controversial bills, which is something that TSCA reform certainly is not.
In any case, the issue is very complicated, and I am willing to bet money that many of those members who voted yea could offer few details about this legislation, what it does, or what the impact might be, which to some extent...
June 23, 2015
The process of lawmaking is often compared to sausage making: an unpalatable job that produces a palatable result. It’s easy to agree with the first part of that analogy, but in politics, the result isn’t always pleasant.
Today, U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to “suspend the rules” and pass its version of reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This cursory approach is another example of the suspension of reason that has plagued the entire TSCA debate, the result of which remains ambiguous at best.
May 20, 2015
The Obama administration has finally released its National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators. It’s the federal government’s answer to all the hype found in the news related to the health on the nation’s honeybee hives. While it’s not clear what it will achieve for the bees, we can be sure it comes with lots of pork-barrel spending, government handouts, and shortsighted pesticide polices that undermine food production.
May 13, 2015
Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research is holding a hearing on “pollinator health” to discuss a national strategy designed to improve honeybee health. Hopefully, U.S. regulators and legislators will not move too quickly on a strategy that is governed by alarmism; rather, they should take a deliberative approach that is based on science and good information. They should avoid the rash approach taken by European policy makers, which is increasingly proving unwarranted and counterproductive.
The issue erupted in Europe a few years ago, and European lawmakers jumped the gun by deciding to ban a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids that environmental activists ...
May 7, 2015
I’ve seen many crazy headlines about the challenges facing honeybees, but this one takes the cake:
So now, not only are humans “killing off” bees, we are “enslaving” them! According to this article, “industrial agriculture” is the problem and technological approaches won’t help things. However, the authors don’t offer much of any solution other than: “Until local agriculture replaces global agriculture, there will always be another parasite, another virus, another mysterious collapse.”
Although they don’t define “local...