PAN UK - Pesticide News - Issue 104

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Pesticides News The journal of Pesticide Action Network UK An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides

No.104 August 2016

Food Spray Trials in Arba Minch, Ethiopia (Photo: PAN UK)

In this edition • • • • •

Brexit – Dark Days Ahead or a Bright New Future for UK Agriculture? In Search of the Stings that Sting the Honeybees in Eastern India. How is cotton Farming Affecting Biodiversity in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley? News in Brief - Neonicotinoids in the UK News From The Network - PAN-India Reports on Agroecology in Kerela


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Brexit – Dark Days Ahead or a Bright New Future for UK Agriculture? The UK’s decision to leave the EU has big implications for British agriculture. In this article, PAN UK’s Director, Keith Tyrell, explores the threats and opportunities of Brexit and sets out PAN UK’s vision for a more sustainable farming system. Where We Find Ourselves In June, a narrow, but clear majority of the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. This decision has dramatic implications for all areas of UK policy with over 12,000 EU laws and regulatory instruments set to be replaced or re-negotiated. The UK agricultural sector is heavily influenced by EU policy. Not only is it subject to EU laws – including the Habitats, Water Framework, and Sustainable Use [of pesticides] Directives – but it is also dependent on the convoluted and flawed subsidy regime that is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Unravelling this package is fraught with risks, but it also presents a unique opportunity to shape UK agriculture for a generation to come. Formal negotiations on Brexit have yet to start, and the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU – and with other global trading partners – is still unclear. This uncertainty has created a policy void and groups are jostling to occupy the space and presenting competing visions for the future of UK farming and the countryside. One vision is for the UK to tear up environmental rules and switch to an even more intensive model of agriculture. The EU’s pesticide regulation system in particular has come under attack with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) complaining about “excessive use of the precautionary principle” and stepping up its attempts to water down restrictions. Meanwhile, we have a new Environment Secretary: Andrea

Wheat field below Oak tress on farm in Linolcshire, (photo: PAN-UK)

Leadsom, a former banker who was prominent in the Leave campaign. Her comments on agriculture prior to her appointment were limited to a misguided proposal for environmental trading certificates: “It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies,” Mrs Leadsom explained earlier this year. Under this approach, big, productive farms should be exempted from environmental management requirements, which would be left to smaller, marginal farms instead. The logical conclusion of this approach would be to turn huge areas over to intensive monocrops while destroying biodiversity on a massive scale. Measures to improve landscapes, plant hedgerows and support bird populations would be scrapped across vast swathes of the country.

Protection From Pesticides In fact, our countryside needs more, not less, protection. The statistics are stark: Over the past 80 years, the UK has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows and nearly 121,000km of hedgerows have disappeared (in spite of 30,000km new hedgerows being planted). Over the last 40 years, our most vulnerable species have declined by 77%, and wild pollinators are in retreat: three of our 25 native bumblebee species are now extinct, and eight more are suffering major range contractions. There is little doubt that intensive agriculture and associated habitat change is the driving factor behind these declines, but agrochemicals are also a big part of the problem. Since 1990, the total UK land area treated by pesticides has almost doubled from 45million Ha to 80million Ha. Pesticides have direct impacts on 2

Pesticides News mammals and exposure can cause lethal poisonings. Broad spectrum insecticides, for example, can destroy beneficial insects as well as the pests they are targeting. Even sub-lethal

seeds. In the last 25 years, herbicide use has increased by 75%. It is no co-incidence that farmland bird populations have collapsed. Since the 1970s, the grey partridge, corn bunting, and yellowhammer have all declined doses can harm nervous systems by between 53% and 92%. These and affect behaviour which can farmland specialists are known to make individuals and communities be affected by pesticide use. more vulnerable to other threats. Meanwhile pesticide runoff Pesticides can also affect food continues to pollute our water availability – insecticides reduce courses. Every year, water populations for insect-eating birds, companies spend millions of while herbicides destroy native pounds removing pesticides from plants and habitats and reduce our drinking water. In 2014, food sources for animals that around a quarter of the UK’s depend on floral resources and drinking water protected areas

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were at risk of failing legal standards because of pesticides. Pesticides are also a serious threat to human health. Many pesticides in use today have been linked serious illnesses including asthma, autism, birth defects, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and cancer. Scientific research from the US over last 5-10 years has clearly linked high pesticide exposure in farming families and rural residents near treated fields, with increased incidence of certain types of cancer, other chronic

PAN UK's Five Steps Towards a More Sustainable Farming System. I. Use subsidies to promote greener agricultural practices, support farmers and protect our countryside The UK should move away from a system of flat rate acreage subsidy to one that supports practices that enhance biodiversity. Growing a wider variety of food, with more mixed agriculture, wider crop rotation and lower field size will create more resilient and sustainable farming systems better able to cope with and help tackle climate change. There need not be a conflict between productivity and sustainability – it is possible to have both.

II. Establish strong regulatory controls on pesticides including targets and incentives to cut pesticide use It is possible to cut pesticide use while maintaining yields and profits, but farmers need help and incentives to do so. The UK should introduce a national target to cut pesticide use, ban the most Highly Hazardous Pesticides and promote less harmful and non-chemical methods of managing pests, diseases and weeds.

III. Support farmers wanting to adopt more environmentally friendly practices – including organic – with training and practical research Invest in research to develop and improve sustainable farming approaches and provide training and advice to those who want help to adopt them.

IV. Support diverse, family and small-scale farms Target subsidies to support a thriving and diverse farming sector by giving small and medium scale farmers – not just big agribusiness – a greater share of the subsidies and help them to access markets. This will encourage young people to stay in the industry and reverse the exodus from the sector

V. Support the organic sector to grow Organic farmers in the UK receive much less support than their continental peers, and as a result organic farming only accounts for about 2% of UK production, compared to as much as 10% in some European countries. The new system should provide more support to help farmers convert to organic and and drive market demand for organic products.


Pesticides News health problems and of reproductive problems and a host of developmental disorders in children. This kind of detailed, long term epidemiological research is lacking in the UK but there is no room for complacency that current pesticide controls work well to prevent harmful levels of exposure, especially as there is virtually no enforcement or monitoring of pesticide use practices. What is perhaps most galling is that the system which allows this destruction and harm does not even work economically for farmers: Around 80% of CAP subsidies go to just 20% of landowners – the biggest ones, including many corporate enterprises. For the rest, farming is of marginal or uncertain profitability. Incomes are low and farmgate prices often fail to cover the cost of production. Hundreds of farmers leave the industry every year: around a third of dairy farms have closed in the last decade alone. Of those that that remain, many are forced to supplement their income with second jobs or diversified activities. UK Farming is in crisis, and has been for some time. Our Vision But it doesn’t have to be like this.

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We at PAN UK have a different vision for the future of UK agriculture. We want to see an agricultural system which allows farmers to make a good living, but at same time supports them to grow more sustainably; A system which makes it easier for farmers to make space for the environment; and which helps them to reduce their reliance on pesticides. We want a food and farming system that generates extra employment, with more rewarding jobs and better conditions for farm workers, and improves social and economic welfare in rural areas. To achieve this, the UK must move away from reliance on high levels of agrochemical inputs and fossil fuels and switch to farming methods based on agroecological science and which make better use of ecological interactions and natural resources. In this way, we can convert British agriculture to a safer, fairer and more sustainable system for the next generation of farmers. Once the UK leaves the EU, the CAP will no longer apply. Brexit has given us the opportunity to replace the CAP with a system that benefits both farmers and biodiversity and introduce a model that ties subsidies more effectively to social and environmental goods.

The CAP currently delivers more than £3 billion in support to UK farmers. It is an essential lifeline for many and makes up more than half of many farmers’ incomes. But less than 20% of this funding supports environmental and social measures and the vast majority of the funds are simply doled out based on acreage – the more land you own, the more money you get. PAN UK is calling for a refocusing of support to help farming communities and the environment (see our five point plan on previous page). We want to see subsidies maintained, but targeted at those who need it most and rewarding farmers who work with the environment. As the Government charts a course out of the EU, Ministers must consult widely to come up with the best option for the UK: its people, economy and environment. PAN UK stands ready to be part of that process to create a truly sustainable farming system. Please get in touch if you can help support this work. Contacts Keith Tyrell, Director PAN-UK

In Search of The Stings That Sting The Honeybees in Eastern India Studies of bee declines and possible links to pesticide exposure have been mainly conducted in Europe and North America. However, there is growing awareness of problems for pollinators in developing countries too. Dr Parthiba Basu from The Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta reports on pioneering work on native Indian honey bees. Forward by PAN UK In 2010, Dr Parthiba Basu wanted to look at pollinator declines in India. He found a total lack of any long term data on pollinator abundance or diversity in India (unlike Europe where good data

exists) so he just couldn’t tell IF there is a big decline in bees in India or not. To explore any possible relationships between pesticide use, forest habitat decline and pollination deficit, Dr Basu analysed FAOSTAT data on

long-term crop yield trends to take a first, indirect look for any evidence of yield declines. He compared crops which are 100% cross-pollinated by insects (e.g. squash, gourds) with nonpollinated crops (most cereals) and 4

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‘overlaid’ this data with the two factors representing agricultural intensification: high pesticide use and decline in pollinatorfavourable habitat. Looking at FAOSTAT pesticide use data, he found that 22 countries have experienced a doubling of pesticide volumes since the late 1960s: in Asia (including India), the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Many of these countries also suffer from food security difficulties. Plotting yield trend data for five crop FAOSTAT data on pesticide use (above: Fig 1) and decreases types, comprising 12 crop species, in forest cover (below: Fig 2) against time (mid-1960s to mid 2000s), he found a clear trend of stagnating yields since the 1990s for pollinator dependent crops in the countries where pesticide use had doubled (Fig 1). When FAOSTAT data on decreases in forest cover for the 22 countries was added to this evaluation, the relation between factors negatively affecting pollinators and stagnating yields in pollinator dependent crops became even clearer (fig 2). His assessment & conclusions from this modelling exercise led him to develop the concept for the recently completed Darwin have definitively shown the mellifera. There exists a large Initiative project (ref 1) and the deleterious impacts of pesticides information gap on the impacts of research discussed here. on pollinating insects. Even the pesticides on other native neonicotinoids that were once honeybees in other parts of the The Concept championed as a safer pesticide world, particularly the developing Pollinating insects across the have also been shown to seriously nations in the global south that globe are under threat. Over the affect the diversity and biology of host a vast population of small and past decade a decline in multiple species of bees – both marginal farmers. Similarly there abundance and diversity of the managed and wild. is almost no scientific knowledge pollinators has emerged as a major However, most of the published on how pesticides affect the conservation issue. Considering research to date on the impacts of natural populations of these native that more than 70% of global crop pesticides on pollinators is from honeybee species. Our research at production is dependent on the the global north and report results the Centre for Pollination Studies pollinating insects, their decline from controlled laboratory (CPS), University of Calcutta in poses a serious challenge to global experiments on either various India has attempted to bridge these crop systems. A large number of species of bumblebees or the information gaps (ref 2). We have studies published in the recent past European honey bee- Apis conducted studies on two species


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showed significantly higher pesticide residues of cypermethrin, profenophos, endosulphan and their break down products in their bodies (Fig. 3).

containing molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons, making it highly reactive with other molecules. Such free oxygen radicals react with other molecules in the body including DNA and ‘steal’ electrons from these What are the toxic impacts and molecules, a process which sets how are the honeybees coping? off a cascading destabilization in Fig 2a Apis dorsata (above) Pesticide exposure is known to the physiological system. The Fig 2b. Apis cerana (below) cause oxidative stress in a wide body produces anti-oxidant range of animals, including enzymes e.g. super oxide insects. Oxidative stress occurs dismutase (SOD) and catalase when production of free oxygen (CAT) to counteract these ROS. containing radicals (Reactive Under oxidative stress there will Oxygen Species or ROS) far be increased production of SOD exceeds the anti-oxidant defense and CAT as the organism’s coping mechanism. ROS are generally response. Another enzyme, produced in the body due to xanthine oxidase (XOX) also of Indian honeybee species – Apis regular cellular metabolism, but contributes to the synthesis of cerana (Fig 2b) and Apis dorsata various environmental stresses, various ROS and pesticide (Fig 2b). Of these two A. cerana is including pesticide exposure, can exposure has been reported to a managed species and A. dorsata also lead to increased production heighten XOX production. (or the rock bee, as it is commonly of ROS. ROS is an oxygen However, most studies have been known) is wild and unmanageable. We wanted to see how these two species are faring in the pesticide intensive agricultural areas in two Eastern Indian states- Odisha and Tripura- across a gradient from low to high pesticide use in smallholder production of vegetables and paddy rice (ref 3). We looked first at pesticide residue levels in soil and in bees collected from high and low pesticide use sites. We found that soil pesticide residues ( of anthanilic diamide, carbamate, organochlorine, pyrethroid and organophosphate groups) in the intensive agricultural areas were significantly higher than the low cropping intensity subsistence farming areas. Individuals sampled from the natural colonies of the two studied honey bee species in the high pesticide use intensive cropping areas also

Fig. 3 (A,B) Pesticide residues detected in two species of field collected honeybee in high intensity (HIC) and low intensity (LIC) cropping sites.


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Fig 4. Experimental procedure for testing PER response in honey bees.

done on mammalian species and there is no research on insects. Our team at the CPS wanted to see if there is an over expression (increased activity) of SOD, CAT and XOX enzymes in the honeybees sampled from the pesticide laden intensive cropping areas. Our experiments indeed showed significantly higher concentration of all the three markers of oxidative stress- SOD, CAT and XOX levels- in honeybee individuals from the intensive farming areas. Obviously this indicated that the honeybees in the intensive farming areas are under oxidative stress. To ascertain that this is indeed happening due to pesticides, the researchers exposed honeybees in the laboratory to a cocktail of pesticides in the same concentrations that are used by farmers in the study areas. The expression of SOD, CAT and XOX in the laboratory experiments were similar to that

observed in the field, confirming that this oxidative stress is indeed due to pesticide exposure. This study also showed for the first time expression of XOX in any insect.

experiments conducted by CPS honeybee foragers were conditioned to a particular lure pheromone along with food reward (Fig 4). The same was also done for bees in the laboratory colonies. We found that bees from the pesticide intensive farming areas had significantly lower PER compared to honeybees from pesticide free areas (ref 3). Quite clearly the honeybees from the pesticide intensive areas were not able to smell properly and had lower memory for a specific smell. In laboratory studies too, bees exposed to field doses of pesticide cocktails had significantly lower PER, confirming that pesticides are indeed affecting the smelling ability of the honeybees studied.

The next questions were how and why? Honeybees perceive any smell through 11 different kinds of microscopic structures called Does pesticide exposure impact sensillae on their antennae. It is honeybee ability to smell? possible that chronic pesticides Although Carl Von Frisch exposure affects the receptivity of famously established that these sensillae and that could be honeybees use dance language for the primary reason why providing foraging cues to their honeybees from pesticide colony mates, it is also known intensive zones cannot smell that olfaction (ability to smell) properly. To check this we plays a crucial role in honeybee examined at microscopic level the foraging too. antennae of the pesticide exposed When honeybees detect a smell honeybees from the intensive they stick out their proboscis or agricultural areas using a tongue. This is known as scanning electron microscope Proboscis Extension Reflex (SEM). The pictures taken under (PER). Measuring this SEM showed that the sensillae in behavioural response to odours is honeybees from pesticide a standard test to assess memory intensive zones had clearly gain and recall in pollinator perceptible deformations . A insects and used by particular disc like sensilla called ecotoxicologists to explore how the Sensory Placodea was cracked pesticide exposure may be like a cracked soil surface, and affecting insect memory. In other sensillae were deformed too. 7

Pesticides News Smell (olfactory molecules) perceived at the sensillae trigger long term memory formation (LTM) of a particular smell in two regions of the honeybee brain- the antennal lobes and the mushroom body. Any damage in the antennal fine structures could have a knock-on effect on the LTM formation process. On the other hand, the neuronal process of smell LTM formation involves various ion channel activities, particularly the calcium ion, in these two brain regions. Most molecules involved in chemistry of long term memory function involve calcium ions, so levels of this brain chemical are important to monitor. The levels of free calcium ions in resting state in relevant regions of the brain is a known biomarker for level of memory function in mammalian physiological studies. Calpain, an important calcium handling protein, also plays a significant role in olfactory memory formation in the honey bee brain. To understand how pesticide exposure might be affecting bees’ brain functions related to olfactory learning and memory, we measured the levels of free calcium ions (i.e. those that are biologically active) in bee brain tissue and of calpain in bees collected from low and high intensity cropping sites. Calcium imaging under a confocal microscope of the brains of honeybees from pesticide intensive zones that were exposed to a specific pheromone lure showed significantly lower free calcium in the antennal lobe and mushroom body than in these parts of the brain in unexposed bees (Fig 5). In lab studies of honeybees

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Fig.5. Images showing olfactory regions of representative stained honey bee brain sampled from LIC (control) and HIC (pesticide) field sites. A higher intensity of green fluorescence indicates higher levels of free calcium ions.

exposed to field concentrations of a pesticides cocktail, results similarly showed less free calcium in their brain than in control bees. Further probing also showed significantly lower calpain protein levels in the pesticide exposed honeybee brains than in control bees. These findings strongly suggest that pesticide exposed bees may have less efficient handling of free calcium than unexposed bees and this could affect their olfactory learning and memory (ref 4). This study is a world first for this methodology to be used to assess pesticide impacts in honey bees and the first to report a decrease in brain

biochemistry of these compounds in natural bee populations living in intensively cropped areas with high pesticide exposure. Conclusion Honeybees are still persisting in the agricultural landscapes in Eastern India where these studies were made. However, farmers unequivocally maintain that their populations are declining. Our earlier research also shows reduced pollination in field experiments on brinjal (aubergine) and mustard crops, for which insect pollination is very important for good yields, with very high and obvious pollination deficit in 8

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both crops at high pesticide exposed sites (see ref 2.) With over forty years of chronic exposure to pesticides, thanks to the Indian Green Revolution that was pushed in the 1970s, it is now a matter of time before they disappear from the agricultural landscapes altogether unless pesticide exposure can be significantly reduced or totally avoided. CPS is therefore working to promote more pollinatorfriendly practices with farmers and extension agents, including non-pesticidal approaches.

between people and pollinators in Eastern India. Darwin Initiative project 2012-2015. Via: http:// project/19024/


Ref 4. Chakrabarti, P, Rana, S, Bandopadhyay, S, Sarka, S, and Basu,

Ref 1. Enhancing the relationship

Ref 2. Technical briefing on pesticide impacts research on pollinators in India. PAN UK, with Dr Parthiba Basu, August 2016 Ref. 3 Chakrabarti, P, Rana, S, Sarkar, S, Smith, B and Basu, P. (2014) Pesticide-induced oxidative stress in laboratory and field populations of native honey bees along intensive agricultural landscapes in two Eastern Indian states. Apidologie DOI: 10.1007/ s13592-014-0308-z

P. (2015) Field populations of native Indian honey bees from pesticide intensive agricultural landscape show signs of impaired olfaction. Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/srep12504

Contacts Dr Parthiba Basu is Head of Zoology at the University of Calcutta and founder of the university’s Centre for Pollination Studies (CPS). He recently set up the Indian Network for Agroecology. Zoology_final/zoology.htm and Stephanie Williamson, Staff Scientist, PAN UK.

How is cotton farming affecting biodiversity in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley? PAN-UK and PAN-Ethiopia have been working with farming communities in the Ethiopian Rift Valley to monitor the effects of cotton production on biodiversity in the area since 2013. Here, Atalo Belay and Tadesse Amera from PAN-Ethiopia discuss the motivations for this work and their findings. Background Agricultural expansion and intensification is being promoted in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, an area where there is also high biological diversity. The presence of large scale and smallholder farms, along with clearing bush and forest for agricultural expansion, is potentially threatening biological diversity in the area. Ethiopia has simultaneously prepared its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) document as per article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (ref 1). It focuses on the status, pressures on, options for, and priority action to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, and equitable share of benefits accrued from the use of biological diversity (ref 2). However, actual impacts on biodiversity from agro-chemical use and effects

from agro-ecosystems with different intensity of inputs and scale have not, to our knowledge, been quantified to date within Ethiopia. This project, funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative (refs 3 & 4) was based in the Ethiopian Rift Valley and

worked to build capacity on a national and local basis to assess the impact of pesticides on biodiversity and to develop agroecological solutions. The key focus of the work in Arba Minch, a cotton growing area in the southern part of the Ethiopian

Arba Minch farmers next to Abaya Lake (photo: PAN-UK)

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Table 1. Insecticides applied on cotton in two smallholder and two large farms in Arba Minch

Rift Valley, was on designing and implementing a 2-3 year monitoring programme to assess how cotton farming is influencing biodiversity, both through the use of pesticides (via ‘in-crop’ monitoring) and also through the influence of large-scale monoculture cotton production versus small-scale smallholder land management (via ‘out-crop’ monitoring). The baseline for this latter element was from monitoring vegetation and bird diversity in semi-natural forest compared with the large and small farm agroecosystems. The use of a simple, agro-ecological alternative to pesticide use, based on use of the food spray method to attract natural enemies of insect pests [see PN 84 p.6-9 and PN 89 p.7], was also monitored for its influence on ‘in-crop’ biodiversity. In-crop monitoring The main aim of the in-crop monitoring was to determine the direct and indirect impacts of pesticide use on target (pests) and non-target (natural enemies) invertebrates in the cotton cropped area, compared to untreated cotton and to plots using the food spray method. The study was conducted

in two smallholder cotton farms, whose owners were using insecticides, in Genta Kanchama and Kolla Mullato villages and two large scale cotton farms, Amibara and Lucy. Table 1 details the insecticides applied in the 2015 season in all four study site farms. At Amibara farm, two food sprays were applied, while three food sprays were applied at Lucy farm. Food spray treatments in

smallholder farms were made at nearby Farmer Field School demonstration plots and not on the fields where insecticides were used. Invertebrates (mainly insects) monitoring was done in the insecticide-sprayed plots, the plots were food spray applications were made and in untreated control plots, using beat sheet counting and visual inspection methods. Data collection was done once a week in the morning, from 8-10 a.m. as at this time insects were easy to find on the cotton leaves, as they are less active in the midday heat. Findings From Lucy Farm Full details of the insect monitoring are available in the project final report (ref 5). Here we summarise findings from Lucy large scale farm, as an example. Application of food spray and insecticides on the experimental cotton plots at this farm had effects on key groups of natural enemies

Figure 1. Effect of food spray and insecticide treatments on total natural enemies at Lucy commercial cotton farm in 2015 cropping season (T1=Food spray, T2=Insecticide and T3=Untreated control), arrows show treatment application dates, green arrows indicate application date for food spray treatment (08 July 2015, 31 August 2015 and 13 September 2015) while red arrows indicate application dates of insecticide treatment (21 July 2015, 13 August 2015 and 02 September 2015)


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vegetation, planted with different crops including cereals (maize), vegetables (including tomato, chilli peppers) and fruits (mango and banana), creating a refuge for natural enemies. Unlike the smallholders’ area, the large farms were planted with large expanses of cotton monoculture, with a small amount of maize borders. In the smallholder farms, more groups of pests and natural enemies were recorded in the food spray treated plots, followed by the untreated plots. This may be Figure 2 Effect of food spray and insecticide treatments on total pest insects at Lucy because the food spray has a nontoxic effect and attracts natural including ladybird beetles reduced them (Fig. 1). Following enemies. In contrast, the (Coccinellidae), green lacewings the food spray application dates on insecticide treated plots both in the (Chrysopidae) and hoverflies 8th July, 31st August and 13th large farms and smallholder plots (Syrphidae). These natural September, ladybird beetles were sprayed with endosulfan and enemies prey on small and softshowed an increase in their counts. malathion, broad-spectrum active bodied pests, such as aphids, On the other hand, ladybird ingredients which are known to leafhoppers, small bollworms and numbers decreased following the kill natural enemies as well as bollworm eggs and can provide a endosulfan applications on 21st target pests. useful contribution of biological July, 13th August and 3rd pest control. Our analysis of September. As for profitable cotton modelled counts of ladybirds from In terms of arthropod diversity production, total sales and both food spray and insecticide (pests and natural enemies production costs for each sprayed plots showed numbers on groups), smallholder farm plots treatment in the two large farms these plots were significantly were found to have relatively were compiled, to calculate the net different from the untreated plots. more diverse arthropod groups, revenue (gross margin) from These counts also showed that compared to the plots in the large different treatments. At both application of food spray led to an cotton farms. This was likely farms, the highest gross margin increase in the number of because the smallholder farm was recorded from food spray ladybirds, whilst insecticide spray areas were mosaics of different treated plots, followed by insecticide treated plots (Table 2).

Table 2. Seed cotton yield and economic impacts of cotton crops grown with the use of food spray and insecticides at Amibara and Lucy commercial farms, 2015 a The price of seed cotton was 15 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) ($1=22 ETB) in 2015. b Production cost was inclusive of pest management costs, labor costs and material costs

Overall, the results of the in-crop monitoring show that application of supplementary food spray products can boost the densities of beneficial insects (particularly predatory insects) for managing pests in cotton fields on large, commercial scale farms. The data strongly suggests that use of food spray products for pest management increased the abundance of natural enemies 11

Pesticides News which were then able to reduce pest infestation both in the case of commercial and smallholder farms. The data also indicate that this resulted in higher gross margin to the farmer. This finding is in line with PAN UK’s earlier work on the food spray method with organic cotton farmers in Benin (ref. 6) and with trials of the food spray method in demo plots in our Arba Minch Farmer Field School training project in 2013 and 2014 (ref 7.)

government policy on agricultural investment. We therefore decided to focus the out-crop monitoring on the broader impact of land use change on biodiversity, using vegetation and bird monitoring conducted in and around a variety of local agro-ecosystems and within neighbouring semi-natural habitat (in a relatively undisturbed forest protected area). Our monitoring sites represented different ecosystems, including semi-natural forest, smallholder plots, and intensively cropped Out-crop monitoring cotton fields on large farms and Initial field observation and desk transitional, uncropped areas to assessment of the potential threats explore how the different cropping to biodiversity in Arba Minch area systems and land management suggested that the impact of practices might be affecting pesticides on biodiversity outside biodiversity. Capacity was built in cropping areas was likely to be monitoring the influence of landminor, compared to the impact of use on biodiversity, through land use change. This was assessment of bird and vegetation postulated in 2013 after the abundance and diversity. Ethiopian team and ecotoxicologist experts from the Natural Resource Group in the UK Vegetation diversity monitoring conducted a field visit to the Out-crop vegetation monitoring project areas. Bush clearing and was conducted four times from habitat modification for large2014 to 2016 in different seasons scale agriculture was evident in (dry and rainy seasons). The first the area, consistent with vegetation monitoring was used as

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a capacity building learning session to practically introduce data collection materials, monitoring sites and monitoring method including how to do transect walks and lay quadrats. Vegetation monitoring was done using both quadrat (10x10m) and transect (100m) sampling techniques. These methods aimed at obtaining a checklist of plants in a small habitat area by sampling easily distinguished and recurrent plant assemblages, as an appropriate method for training local monitoring teams to monitor commonly occurring plant species. For similar reasons, local and common names of trees, shrubs, climbers and herbs were used. Table 3 summarises the vegetation diversity, evenness and recorded plant growth forms. The results demonstrated that using plant species richness alone did not highlight any notable differences in biodiversity between the different monitoring sites. However, we did find indications of differences between sites based on growth habit and although this points at differences in biodiversity in general (as woodland/forest generally has the highest biodiversity – faunal and floral combined – of all terrestrial habitat) it is not linked to higher biodiversity by any of the criteria used in this study. Bird diversity monitoring

Table 3. Summary table of the number of plant species of different growth habits recorded in different monitoring sites during the fourth monitoring period.

The method used for bird monitoring was Timed Species Count (TSC) over a 60 minute period, to rank species recorded along a five point scale from ‘abundant’ to ‘rare’. TSC is a simple yet quick and effective method that can produce good 12

Pesticides News data in little time and a single person or a group of researchers can effectively carry it out in the field. This method was selected because it could be used to collect bird data in different areas without the need for sophisticated materials and was also financially feasible. The method was easy to use with local people including school children and teachers, as it doesn’t require the use of technical materials although good bird identification skills are needed. Colleagues from the Ethiopian Natural History & Wildlife Society took part to help with this. It was also an educational and enjoyable exercise for farmers, teachers, school children and other participants from the agriculture offices. Monitoring sessions were arranged to be in the morning time because birds are usually more active at these times of the day in a tropical climate Observations were made at the different ecosystem sites on four dates during dry and wet seasons. The bird monitoring results did show suggestions of some differences in biodiversity between different sites, although the small number of monitoring sessions conducted did not allow statistical analysis to be done. Table 4 shows the number of bird species in different feeding guilds observed in the four sites. The farm sites include not only cropped areas but also ecotone areas around these ( farm paths with hedges or natural vegetation, roadsides, streams and irrigation channels and, in the case of the smallholder farming site, also grazing areas in uncropped wet grassland).

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Table 4 Different feeding guilds with the respective number of bird species recorded in different monitoring sites over the 2014-2016 monitoring season, Southern Ethiopia

For the large farms which were relatively more greatly modified habitats, Lucy farm showed less diversity in bird species and types of feeding guilds but Amibara showed high diversity both in species and feeding guilds which might have been because of the surrounding eco-tones and nearby semi-natural forest. Shelle Mella and the semi-natural forest monitoring sites held less species but had greater diversity in feeding guilds and thus a better community structure compared to the large farms. This might be because the smallholders’ area had a mosaic of small plots planted with different crops type including fruits, while the semi-natural forest was a near natural system which could have provided food sources for bird species.

cleared for conventional monoculture agriculture. These kinds of agricultural intensification and habitat modification present possible threats to biodiversity in the Arba Minch area and to important ecosystem services, such as natural pest control, pollination, nutrient cycling, flood mitigation and soil erosion protection. In many cases, these services go unnoticed by farming communities, the government and business people. Another component of the Darwin project was to raise local stakeholders’ awareness of the role of biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services, through carrying out ecosystem service walks in and around farmed and natural habitats (refs 8 & 9).

Raising awareness of how land management choices can affect biodiversity The government’s plan to intensify agriculture with the use of inputs like fertilizers and synthetic pesticides in the Southern Rift Valley Agricultural investments are also expanding, with investors given large plots of land which were previously bushland and/or forest land to be

At local level, there was appreciation of the training and opportunities given by the project to schools to learn more about bird identification and a little about their ecology. Local capacity to identify birds and to understand the importance of bird ecology and conservation has been increased and well received. Local ornithological knowledge is still at a relatively low level, but an 12

Pesticides News important start has been made by the project. Overall the project strongly indicated that further work on this is warranted in the Arba Minch area and could have positive outcomes for both ecosystem service provision, agricultural productivity and farming livelihoods. The results are also highly relevant to local communities and deserve to be communicated both to local agricultural extension officers and others in the plant protection service for the government and to national level policy-makers. Reducing impacts of farming practices on the environment is vital to conserve biodiversity and sustain the common wealth arising from natural capital and the ecosystem services which flow from it. PAN Ethiopia , with its local and UK partners, has made a significant contribution in Arba Minch by raising awareness of these issues, building local capacity in biodiversity and ecotox monitoring and introducing pest management alternatives, including the food spray method, which are low cost, simple to implement, protect non-

No.103 June 2016

target organisms and which help farmers’ make better use of natural pest control. References Ref 1 CBD (2004). The Ecosystem Approach, (CBD Guidelines) Montreal: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 50 p.

Ref 2 IBC (2005). National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, Addis Ababa. Ref 3 Pesticide impacts on biodiversity in Ethiopia & agro-ecological solutions. Via: project/20018/ Ref. 4 PAN UK Project: Tackling pesticide impacts on biodiversity in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. PAN UK, 2013. Via: Ref 5. Ecotoxicological & biodiversity monitoring within and between different cotton agroecosystems and in comparison to semi-natural forest areas, Arba Minch, Southern Ethiopia. Atalo Belay & Tadesse Amera (Eds.) PAN Ethiopia and PAN UK, 2016. Report to Darwin Initiative for project Pesticide Impacts on Biodiversity in Ethiopia &

Agroecological Solutions (DI 1952) Ref. 6 Mensah, RK, Vodouhe, DS, Sanfillippo, D, Assogba, G and Monday, P. (2012) Increasing organic cotton production in Benin West Africa with a supplementary food spray product to manage pests and beneficial insects. International Journal of Pest Management 58 (1) 53-64 DOI: 10.1080/09670874.2011.645905 Ref. 7 Amera, T, Mensah, RK and Belay, A. (in press) Integrated pest management in a cotton-growing area in the Southern Rift Valley region of Ethiopia: Development and application of a supplementary food spray product to manage pests and beneficial insects. International Journal of Pest Management Ref. 8 How to run an ecosystem services walk. NR Group/PAN UK Guidance Note, 2016. Ref 9. Darwin Output Note: Experiences with ecosystem services walks. NR Group/PAN UK, 2016. Contacts Atalo Belay, Project Manager, PANEthiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tadesse Amera, Director, PAN-Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

News In Brief The final nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids?

the journal Nature (ref 1). The study, led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, clearly PAN UK Policy Officer Nick Mole shows that wild bee populations discusses yet another study that have suffered large scale and long links bee declines with exposure to term declines since the neonicotinoid insecticides introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. A new report examining the The report itself is based on a effects neonicotinoid pesticides on correlational study looking to see wild bee populations in England if there are significant was published in August 2016, in relationships between data on wild

bee populations and incidence and data on oilseed rape(OSR) acreages and neonicotinoid treatment over an 18 year period (1994-2011) including before and after the introduction of neonicotinoids to the UK. The results do not provide absolute proof, but the analysis provides an extremely convincing association between the two data sets that adds significantly to the large 14

Pesticides News body of scientific evidence showing that neonicotinoids cause harm to wild bees and other pollinator species. The results are shocking. The analysis estimates that neonicotinoid exposure alone is responsible for greater than 20% of local population losses for five species of wild bees, and greater than 10% for 24 species – a more than 10% decline in distribution for 40% of England’s wild bee species. The report is also clear that the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on OSR crops is a significant driver related to wild bee declines. Whilst many in the pro-neonicotinoid camp have argued that OSR crops provide excellent forage for bees this report suggests that it is actually a poisoned chalice. The report shows that wild bees feeding on OSR crops declined more as a result of their exposure to neonicotinoids than they increased from any positive benefit they might have gained from OSR nectar and pollen. As PAN UK has maintained, and the report confirms, bee declines are not being driven solely by the use of pesticides and there are other factors, including habitat loss, involved. It highlights the significant contribution that the use of neonicotinoids is making to serious population declines. While evidence of harm of neonicotinoids is mounting, concrete evidence of thier benefit is hard to find. There have been no devastating yield losses in the UK OSR crop since the EU introduced a ban on three neonicotinoids used in seed

No.103 August 2016

Oilseed rape is often pre treated with with neonicotinoids

treatment of OSR and others in 2014. In fact there has been no increase in OSR yields since the adoption and widespread use of neonicotinoids began in 2002. It begs the question: why are we using them at all? This is a very important report that cannot and should not be overlooked. It adds considerable weight to the evidence against neonicotinoids. The new Defra Minister, Andrea Leadsom, must pay attention to the science and not cave in to the vested interests of the NFU and pesticides lobby, pushing for the ban to be lifted. Likewise, PAN UK is confident that this report will have a big impact at the EU level when it comes time to make a decision on the current ban on some neonicotinoids. PAN UK will continue to call for a complete ban on the use of all neonicotinoids. These pernicious chemicals have no place in any modern, sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural system that the UK should be working toward.

References Ref 1 Impacts of neonicotinoid use on longterm population changes in wild bees in England. Ben A. Woodcock, Nicholas J.B. Isaac, James M. Bullock, David B. Roy, David G. Garthwaite, Andrew Crowe & Richard F. Pywell. (2016) Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12459 news/new-study-neonicotinoidinsecticides-linked-wild-bee-declineacross-england Contacts Nick Mole, Policy Officer,


Pesticides News

No.104 August 2016

News From The Network Pesticide Action Network is global, with groups on all continents (except Antarctica). Here we intend to give updates of what we are up to, with ‘News from the Network’. In this issue Jayakumar Chelaton from PAN India reports on the success of Kerala’s new safe food campaign, put into practice by widespread community mobilization for ecological farming practices. Background Kerala in southwest India is closely associated with the image of pesticide harm to human health, due to the striking impacts of aerial spraying of endosulfan

As part of progressive policies for social wellbeing in this small state with 33 million people, the state government passed an organic farming policy in 2009, declaring the intent to make

Former Finance Minister Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac helps farmers with organic vegetable sales at a temporary outlet for organic produce in Ernakulam.

in the 1980-1990s in cashew plantations around the village of Kasargod [see PN 73 p.3]. There, almost 200 cases of chronic health effects were documented in villagers exposed to endosulfan drift and residues in drinking water, including birth defects, reproductive problems and long-term neurological damage, while similar symptoms were observed in livestock [ref 1and 2]. When the extent of the health problems became clear, the state government banned endosulfan and has since taken a proactive position on promoting safer farming methods.

Kerala a fully organic state within ten years. The Food Safety Standards Authority of Kerala is in charge of ensuring food quality and implementing the national act. However, sampling of foodstuffs collected from Keralan markets still found alarming levels of pesticide residues in produce. As a response to the food residue findings, Keralan major political party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), launched a state-wide movement for organic farming at a workshop held in November 2014. This was followed by a

technical workshop in December 2014 to provide practical, agronomic support for the campaign, political support and community organization for expanding organic farming These workshops launched the movement in a small way Keralawide for the vishu (April) growing season in 2015, with the target of supplying and selling organic produce at 1,000 retail outlets by August 2015. The CPI (M) has supported a major increase in organic farming by organizing group training activities, given by local farmers who were already organic experts and also by the state Agriculture Department and local self government bodies (panchayaths and municipalities). Farmers’ co operative banks and CPI(M) are taking the leadership in mobilizing resources and people. By late 2015, Keralan farmers were managing 1,003 hectares of land organically and produced 14,700 tonnes of vegetables grown with zero pesticides. The produce was sold via 850 stalls, with total sales reaching 169 million Indian rupees (equivalent to US$2.6 million), providing considerable income for the farmer groups involved. Of these sales outlets, 48 have became permanent stalls marketing community products. To increase access to safe food, local selfgovernment bodies are leading the programme, with a designated outlet in each municipality, to 16

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No.104 August 2016

High level political support has been extremely important, with the former state Finance Minister, Dr . T. M Tomas Isaac (pictured), taking an active role and visiting many of the farmer groups and sales outlets in person, to bring media attention. Kerala has had an organic farming policy in place and in implementation for six years now and its populace is now very vocal against pesticides. People are worried about safe limits and safety from toxins. Schools are actively involved in the campaign. Here, school students are planting vegetable seedlings in compost bags in the school grounds.

reach the target of 1,000 locations selling organic food at affordable prices. The stalls continue to be successful and have expanded during 2016. The left-wing parties who supported the safe food and organic farming campaign have formed the new government so there is now more investment and support from central government too. The current government has only been in place for two months but is actively supporting the safe food campaign. All the political parties in Kerala have taken this campaign now so there is lot of public discourse and effort going into it. Success factors The success of the safe food campaign owes much to the breadth of government, community and private sector institutions involved in this effort: cooperative societies, credit groups and banks

However, Kerala relies on food imports from other parts of India so in order to guarantee food safety of Keralans’ full diet, the state government is working with its counterparts in other Indian states to promote safer food and farming across the nation.

farmers’ associations, workers and their unions, women’s self help groups and the state agency set up for eradicating poverty, References Kudumbasree Ref 1 government officers from the Long struggle against endosulfan Agriculture Department and poisoningwins relief in India. J university teachers who are part Chelaton & R Sridhar. 2006. Pesticides of Kerala Gazetted Officers News 73, p.3 Via: http://www.panAssociation provide the technical 1. expertise through state and district level units to guide the Monograph on endosulfan. PAN Asia campaign Pacific, 2009. Via:http:// One ‘agriclinic’ per development block is being set up to train monographs youth to become technicians to support organic farming and turn Contacts Jayakumar Chelaton,PAN India. the campaign into livelihood opportunities. Agriclinincs are technical centers that help farmers. When farmers groups are formed, training is provided by these clinics. Serving agriculture department staff, retired volunteers (who are often experts in farming and organic farming) and resource persons provide guidance and handholding to farmers.


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