Breaking the Chain of Life

Latest Sources
August 2016

It’s Time to Ban Atrazine Now
70 million pounds of atrazine are used every year in the U.S. on crops, lawns, schools, playgrounds and athletic fields. It's not just harming wildlife - atrazine exposure has been linked to birth defects and cancer in humans.

Loggerhead Shrike
Populations have declined by almost 80 percent since 1966. This trend coincides with the introduction of chemical pesticides in the U.S.

Newest Additional Reading

  1. EPA Finds Atrazine Likely Harming Most Species of Plants, Animals in U.S., Center for Biological Diversity
  2. What You Need to Know About the EPA’s Assessment of Atrazine,
  3. Glyphosate Persistence Raises Questions, ChemistryWorld
  4. UCSF Presentation Reveals Glyphosate Contamination in People Across America,
  5. Pharmaceutical Chemicals Found in Every Stream Sampled in USGS Study,
  6. Why Are These Male Fish Growing Eggs?, National Geographic

Breaking the Chain of Life


Herbicides And Insecticides

Pesticides kill, and kill, and kill. Not just the target rodent, weed, bug, or insect. Their chemicals spread throughout the ecosystem and finally to humans, causing illness and death.

Therefore, they should be used very sparingly and very cautiously.

Rodenticides, for example rat and mice poison, can kill hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. These second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are sold in bulk form in agricultural stores. And it accumulates in the ecosystem, so that predators eventually build up sufficient anticoagulants to die (see the Living Bird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Summer 2015)

Bird deaths: One seed treated with a class of insecticides called neonics will kill a bird.

Collateral Damage Of Pesticides

Butterfly deaths, bird loss, and even human health are not the targets, but become the collateral damage. For example the wide spread use of neonics has resulted in the crash of the extensive insect population, so that populations of birds that depend on insects for their diet are also crashing.

Then there is the herbicide Roundup. It has destroyed the milkweeds everywhere. And so the monarch butterfly population is crashing, as their larva only will eat milkweed.

But wait, pesticides, including Roundup, are beginning to be found to cause disease in humans, such as cancer.

In the blueberry barrens residents there refer to the impact as summer flu, which coincides with aerial spraying.

Instead of carefully targeted prevention, surveillance, and treatment... the hallmark of Integrated Pest Management, we are indiscriminately covering our agricultural fields in chemicals. In doing so, we contaminate our watersheds and poison the birds, bees, butterflies, and other organisms that farmers rely on for pollination and pest control. (Excerpted from The American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Calls, 7/30/15).

Please read the two sections below, Herbicides and then Pesticides. Finally, find information on how applications containing a mixture of biocidal agents can increase the harm to non-target organisms.

But consider, aren’t we a biocidal civilization?  Do we have an impulse to destroy living organisms, to level the plant and animal life of a region? We have insecticides, fungicides, germicides, herbicides, algicides, molluscicides, miticides, rodenticides, spermicide,  microbicides, avicides,  piscicides, slimicides.

And our children now living in a much too clean environment are exhibiting diseases such as peanut allergies, Chron’s disease, etc.

We will consider two types of pesticides: Herbicides and Insecticides. But what happens when two or more mix together? That will be covered in the final section.

Further Reading

1) Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms, NPR
2) Pesticides, Endocrine Disrupters, and Health, How Europe’s Regulation of Pesticides Could Impact Your Food,


On Glyphosate

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer recently found that glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, is a "probable human carcinogen."...   

If Roundup "probably" causes cancer, it's time to get rid of it!

In light of the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer findings that glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, is a "probable human carcinogen" (Group 2A), the EPA should reconsider its current Group E designation for the herbicide.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of this herbicide are used on farmland across America every year, and the U.S. Geological Survey has detected glyphosate in rain, streams, and air near agricultural areas. Americans are exposed to this "probable human carcinogen" in their food, air, and water every day, and the EPA and FDA are not doing enough to protect us from these exposures and potential health problems.

Tell the EPA it's time to get rid of Roundup and suspend the use of glyphosate until the herbicide's carcinogenicity is reviewed. The FDA should also begin monitoring and enforcing tolerance levels for glyphosate residues set by the EPA immediately.

For more information see this article from Agri-Pulse.

Glyphosate Effects on Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies have declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years, which is why the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a petition last summer to protect these backyard beauties under the Endangered Species Act. A leading cause of the species' decline is a 20-fold increase in pesticide use caused by the widespread adoption of herbicide-tolerant, genetically engineered crops.

Among these herbicides, glyphosate is a main culprit. Commonly known as Roundup, it's a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch's only host plant. To save monarchs, the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the EPA to rein in glyphosate use.


1) Saving the Monarch Butterfly, Center for Biological Diversity

Glyphosate Use on Federal Lands

America's federal lands are some of the most pristine and beautiful parts of our country, yet the use of toxic herbicides on federal land by our own government is contributing to the steep decline in one of our nation's most iconic species.

Monarch butterflies are on the brink of extinction due to the overuse of herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup that use the toxic chemical glyphosate. In just two decades of skyrocketing glyphosate use, monarch populations have plunged so low that we are in real danger of losing a true marvel of nature in our lifetimes: the annual monarch migration.

We must act now to urge the U.S. government to cease using glyphosate-containing herbicides, like Monsanto's Roundup, that are completely destroying monarch habitat on federal land.

Tell the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture: Ban glyphosate use on federal land now. 

Glyphosate Linked to Antibiotic Resistance

A study published by the American Society of Microbiology’s journal mBio has linked glyphosate and two other widely-used herbicides–2,4-D and dicamba–to one of the most pressing public health crises of our time: antibiotic resistance.


1) Study Links Widely Used Pesticides to Antibiotic Resistance,

Further Reading

1) US Centers for Food Safety Slams FDA Approval of Enlist Duo Herbicide,
2) US EPA Approves New Herbicide for Dow Biotech Corn, Soybeans, Des Moines Register
3) Weed Killer, Long Cleared, Is Doubted, NY Times
4) Glyphosate, Favored Chemical of Monsanto & Dow, Declared ‘Probable’ Source of Cancer for Humans,
5) The New DDT: Activist Jeffrey Smith Teams with Rocker Neil Young to Warn Communities About Glyphosate, BoulderWeekly
6) California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto's Roundup 'Carcinogenic', East Bay Express


Neonicotinoid Insecticides (Neonics) are an indiscriminate killer of insects, birds, and other organisms, and a serious contaminate of the food supply. Neonics are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine.

The following is excerpted from comments by Cynthia Palmer in The American Bird Conservancy’s newsletter Bird Calls, 7/30/15:

“Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) are harming the birds, bees, beetles – that form the basis for vast food webs and crop production networks. These small but indispensable organisms are largely invisible in our daily lives... ultimately we all depend on them to control our pests and to pollinate our apples, peaches, berries, nuts, and other crops....

Neonics are both persistent and systemic, meaning they penetrate the entire plant so you can't wash or peel them off. Given their widespread use, we knew we had a good chance of finding them in food. And what better fruits and vegetables to test than those eaten by our members of Congress? ....

We were surprised by the high numbers of neonicotinoids. We had not expected to find them in 91 percent of the items tested, with as many as five different neonicotinoids in samples of fresh-squeezed orange juice and green bell pepper....

What's more, a growing body of research suggests agricultural lands that are biologically depleted from widespread use of neonicotinoids actually become more vulnerable to pest pressures, requiring large amounts of acutely toxic pesticides later in the growing cycle. So it's not as if we've replaced the “bad old pesticides” with the neonicotinoids – we are using both....”

Also from the American Bird Conservancy:

“The United States uses one-fifth of the five billion pounds of pesticides used each year. These chemicals are applied on agricultural lands and in homes, backyards, schools, and businesses. In addition to targeting insects, many of these toxic chemicals also pose severe risk to birds, killing them outright or causing decreased breeding success, physical malformations, or impaired ability to migrate or to avoid predators. It is now almost impossible to find any place on the planet where pesticide residues are not detectable.”

The Effect on Bees


“The ability to put food on our tables is under threat. Bees pollinate much of our produce, and bees are dying off at an alarming rate. We need the Environmental Protection Agency to take action before it is too late.

Imagine a world where fresh produce is a luxury most families can’t afford. That will be the reality if the EPA doesn’t take action. Bees responsible for the pollination of over $15 billion dollars in crops every year are dying off by the millions. It is called colony collapse disorder, and for a long time its cause was a mystery. But we now know that a popular pesticide is what’s killing our bees and discontinuing its use would help end colony collapse disorder.

The agriculture industry uses seeds coated with a pesticide called neonicotinoids. Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency based on a study funded by the makers of the pesticide, neonicotinoids are an addictive toxin bees absorb and take back to the hive or nest. The neonicotinoid spreads through the bee colony and eventually kills all the bees. In turn, crops are not pollinated and are unable to produce fruit. Because of this pesticide, one-third of US beehives are being decimated every year. California has already lost 90% of its bee population.

The European Union has already banned neonicotinoids, and it is now time for the United States to follow suit. We are calling on the EPA to implement a US ban immediately, before it is too late.

Neonicotinoids have been used in seeds that cover more than 150 million acres -- that is the size of California and Washington combined. In one incident, over 37 million bees died after one corn crop was planted with the toxin.

Crops and food prices have already taken a hit because of record-breaking droughts. Add colony collapse disorder to the mix, and our tables will soon be empty of the fruits and vegetables we’ve come to count on.

Do we want to leave our children and grandchildren a world without bees? The stakes are too high, and we owe it to them to take action now. Join me in asking the EPA to ban the use of neonicotinoids. 

‘If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.’ -Albert Einstein”


1) Notorious Neonics Pervasive in Midwest Waters: Study,
2) Settlement: EPA to Analyze Impacts of World's Two Most Widely Used Pesticides, Center for Biodiversity
3) 'Alarm Bells Are On": New Study Links Neonics to Bird Declines,
4) The Neonic Problem: Racing to Gauge a Global Threat to Birds and Bees, Bird Conservation.
5) Pesticides Harm Bumblebees’ Ability to Forage,
6) Worldwide Integrated Assessment on Systemic Pesticides: Global Collapse of the Entomofauna: Exploring the Role of Systemic Insecticides, Environmental Science and Pollution Research
7) Neonicotinoid Pesticides Linked to Bee Deaths are 'Biggest Threat' to Ecosystem, Ontario Watchdog Says, CTV News
8) Bees May Become Addicted to Nicotine-Like Pesticides, Study Finds, The Guardian
9) Newest News on Bee-Harming Neonics, Pesticide Action Network
10) The Trouble with Neonicotinoids: Chronic Exposure to Widely Used Insecticides Kills Bees and Many Other Invertebrates, Science Magazine
11) Honeybees Show Evidence of Insecticide, NY Times
12) Local Farmers: Education Needed Regarding Pesticides, Metro West Daily News
13) Pesticide Use by Farmers Linked to High Rates of Depression, Suicides, Environmental Health News
14) Doctors, Nurses Urge Ban on Neonic Pesticides, The Globe and Mail
15) Pesticides Linked to Bee Decline for First Time in a Countrywide Field Study, The Guardian UK
16) Not Just Bees: Birds Declining Where High Concentrations of Neonics Are Found, Wired Magazine
17) Report: Pesticide Exposure Linked to Childhood Cancer and Lower IQ, CNN
18) Wildflowers Serve as Reservoir for Controversial Pesticides, Royal Society of Chemistry

Pesticide Synergy

Current EPA guidelines require that pesticides undergo testing for acute toxicity in isolation, but have no requirement for testing under field conditions where pesticides are regularly applied in combination. These so-called “tank mixes” can have much greater toxicity to bees and other invertebrates, producing a lethally synergistic effect. In addition, recent evidence has suggested that certain solvents and other “inert” ingredients, which are not required to be tested or labeled on commercial pesticides, can also enhance this toxic effect.

Finally, medical research has pointed to a significant synergy between pesticides and each other, and pesticides and pharmaceuticals.


1) Bee Larvae Adversely Affected By by Mix of Pesticides and Inert Ingredients,
2) Four Common Pesticides, Their Mixtures and a Formulation Solvent in the Hive Environment Have High Oral Toxicity to Honey Bee Larvae, PLOS One
3) Synergism Between EBI Fungicides and a Pyrethroid Insecticide in the Honeybee (Apis mellifera), Pesticide Science
4) Synergy: The Big Unknowns of Pesticide Exposure, National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides

It’s Time to Ban Atrazine Now

From the Center for Biological Diversity

A new analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency paints a grim picture for wildlife in the United States. The country's second-most commonly used pesticide, atrazine, is likely harming most species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, especially in the Midwest where its use is highest.

Sadly the findings aren't all that shocking -- we've known about this for decades. The European Union banned atrazine a dozen years ago for exactly this reason.

Around 70 million pounds of atrazine are used every year in the United States on crops, lawns, schools, playgrounds and athletic fields. And it's not just harming wildlife -- atrazine exposure has been linked to birth defects and cancer in humans.

The chemical industry is fighting hard to keep the status quo. Tell the EPA to listen to its own scientists and not the chemical companies. We must ban atrazine now.


1) EPA Finds Atrazine Likely Harming Most Species of Plants, Animals in U.S., Center for Biological Diversity
2) What You Need to Know About the EPA’s Assessment of Atrazine,

Loggerhead Shrike

According to Breeding Bird Survey data, populations have declined by almost 80 percent since 1966. This trend coincides with the introduction of chemical pesticides in the United States.


1) Loggerhead Shrike, American Bird Conservancy

Additional Reading

1) Glyphosate Persistence Raises Questions, ChemistryWorld
2) UCSF Presentation Reveals Glyphosate Contamination in People Across America,

Pharmaceutical Chemicals Found in Every Stream Sampled in USGS Study,

4) Why Are These Male Fish Growing Eggs?, National Geographic