pesticides

In the ferocious, sprawling brawl over genetically modified crops, one particular question seems like it should have a simple factual answer: Did those crops lead to more use of pesticides, or less?

Sadly, there's no simple answer.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Many marijuana users might not be aware of a hidden risk in some pot products: potentially toxic pesticides. King County’s Board of Health was briefed on the issue at its monthly meeting on Thursday. 

One of the promises of legalized marijuana is regulations that make the product safer. But regulating pesticides on pot is tricky. First, because of the federal ban on marijuana, research is lacking and too little is known about the health effects when pesticides are burned and inhaled.

Chances are, you've never heard of flubendiamide. It's not among the most toxic insecticides, and it's not among the widely used chemicals, either. In recent years, it has been used on about a quarter of the nation's tobacco and 14 percent of almonds, peppers and watermelons.

Orlin Wagner / AP Photo

Northwest beekeepers are applauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for requiring certain pesticides to carry a clearer warning label. The idea is to prevent home gardeners and farmers from inadvertently harming beneficial pollinators, like bees.

The EPA directive applies to widely used bug killers, rose and flower treatments, and grub controls. Future labels will have to carry specific warnings under a picture of a bee. 

Tom Banse

This is the time of year when local farmers count on bees and other insects to pollinate orchards and vegetable and berry fields. The change in the seasons is not the only thing creating a buzz in the world of beekeeping.

This week, the European Commission put a moratorium on the use of three popular pesticides judged to pose high risk to bees.

Beekeepers have started to push Washington State's Department of Agriculture to go in that direction, too. And that could have an effect on what's available at your local garden center.

tpmartins / Flickr

An East Coast court case could have big impacts on West Coast fish, and farmers too. Chemical manufacturers are suing the federal government to get a rule restricting pesticide use wiped off the books.

In 2008 the National Marine Fisheries Service ruled a certain class of pesticides is a mortal threat to salmon and steelhead populations. Organophosphates are common on farms, and used to be widely used in gardens before regulators phased them out.

A draft federal evaluation has found that three more common pesticides used on home lawns and agricultural crops jeopardize the survival of West Coast salmon.

Residents who live on Highway 36 west of Eugene are waiting for the results of a Pesticide Exposure Investigation by the state of Oregon. They believe herbicide spraying by the timber industry is causing health issues in their communities.

For years, residents near Blachly and Triangle Lake have complained of pesticide drift from clear-cut sprays. But it wasn’t until last spring that they caught the attention of the state. In independent biological testing, more than 30 people from the area tested positive for the common timber industry herbicides Atrazine and 2,4,D.