Thursday, November 24, 2016

Industrial Agriculture: A Runaway Domino Effect Freight Train of Unintended Ecological Consequences

Don't worry, Science will invent another chemical to kill those nasty Mites. Dare to criticize us and we'll expose you as an Anti-Science Luddite!

Image - IPM Innovation Labs

Ever see those cute little neat looking bright red mites out in the field somewhere when hiking ? They look so harmless and they normally are under the right ecological conditions when other beneficial critters working within any ecosystem to keep that "Goldielocks Principle" intact. But leave it to industrial science to provide a nasty twist in our natural world's ecological mutualism mechanisms. Remember the alarming news reports of the Emerald Ash Borer wreaking havoc on the North American Ash Trees ? In 2005 Asian Long Horn Beetles & these Emerald Ash Bores were found in the landscape of  New York city's Central Park and therefore as per the conventional training, the Park Landscape employees begain spraying insecticdes known as Neonicotinoids on 10s of 1000s of trees. The result of course was that the science-based synthetic chemicals killed lots of Asian Long Horn Beetles & Emerald Ash Borers. Hooray! But wait a minute, back up the Union Pacific chemical tank car train for a moment. It appears that there were unintended consequences. They apparently obliterated many non-target beneficial predatory insects (not exactly a surprise here), created an increase in Spider Mite populations and made the plants they wanted to save become tastier and more paletable to pest insects. So what happened ?
Neonicotinoid Insecticides Alter Induced Defenses and Increase Susceptibility to Spider Mites in Distantly Related Crop Plants  (
Chemical suppression of arthropod herbivores is the most common approach to plant protection. Insecticides, however, can cause unintended, adverse consequences for non-target organisms. Previous studies focused on the effects of pesticides on target and non-target pests, predatory arthropods, and concomitant ecological disruptions. Little research, however, has focused on the direct effects of insecticides on plants. Here we demonstrate that applications of neonicotinoid insecticides, one of the most important insecticide classes worldwide, suppress expression of important plant defense genes, alter levels of phytohormones involved in plant defense, and decrease plant resistance to unsusceptible herbivores, spider mites Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae), in multiple, distantly related crop plants.
Our findings are important because applications of neonicotinoid insecticides have been associated with outbreaks of spider mites in several unrelated plant species. More importantly, this is the first study to document insecticide-mediated disruption of plant defenses and link it to increased population growth of a non-target herbivore. This study adds to growing evidence that bioactive agrochemicals can have unanticipated ecological effects and suggests that the direct effects of insecticides on plant defenses should be considered when the ecological costs of insecticides are evaluated. 
This serious ecological disaster in the making has been studied and researched by Texas A&M University agricultural entomologist Adrianna Szczepaniec who was part of that study quoted above. She was curious as to why the neonicotinoid pesticides such as clothianidin and imidacloprid, which can kill a wide range of insects in general, would turn out to be boom in the spider mite populations. As the studied & link I posted above here showed, these elm trees treated with the neonicotinoids to kill target pest insects, are also host to populations of smaller beneficial critters that attack spider mites and keep them in balance. But the other important finding was that these Mites that fed on treated elm leaves had 40 percent more offspring than those that fed on regular Elm trees with untreated leaves. That would suggest that this insecticide was having an epigenetic effect on the trees immune system response which was shut down, which allows the trees leaves to be more palatable to the mites. Take this animated picture below.

Anyone remember many of the recent articles which have been published on the ability of plants to talk and communicate with each other ? Of course plants do not think, reason and articulate speech as we do, yet clearly there is some type of sophistcated communication which goes on which is beyond the comprehension of sceptical human scientists. But many are coming around. Frankly they are forced to acknowledge there is something more going on because the dangerous unhealthy state of our planet demands they dump old failed industrial dogmatic worldviews and accept a more ecological practical application approach to things. Epigenetics is one of the most beautiful discoveries about the natural biological world. The reality is that epigenetics is the same thing as the general term genetics. It's just that we are gaining further understanding and deeper insight into how genetics work and a name or label has been added to describe this incredible phenomena. It provides us with a visual of the actual mechanisms for change as opposed to the religious dogma of random mutation copying errors and blind dumb luck natural selection. Ignorance of just how the mechansisms of DNA and Cell biology work and function are killing we humans and the natural world around us. Remember David Suzuki's plant documentary "Smarty Plants" ?

Link Below from the BBC

Plants Talk to each other using a Fungus Internet

This Spider Mite problem is bigger and much scarier than people think. Adrianna Szczepaniec also found that these irresponsible pesticides used within today's Industrial Agriculture, also created the same indentical epigenetic problems with Cotton, Corn & Tomatoes which has led to increased Spider Mite population booms. The short sighted profit driven solution response from the Agro-Chemical companies was to invent more chemicals to spray on crops to kill Spider Mites. The researchers found that the neonic insecticide, "Imidacloprid," actually alters the activity of more than 600 genes involved in the production of cell walls and defense against pests. The immune system response of many of these genes was greatly reduced if not completely shut down. They evidently suspect that this  reduced activity leads to more palatable leaves and lower levels of hormones involved in pest resistance. This could explain why these spider mite populations thrive in the presence of these neonicotinoid pesticides. I've also previously written about how many species of mycorrhizal fungi trigger immune system responses to their hosts where they kickstart host plant immune systems into overdrive  which is good for the Mycorrhizal Fungi as well from a survival standpoint. But unfortunately, it gets even worse folks. So as not to bog down in too many examples, here is a list of further references on this subject:
Credible Research References:
Fecundity in twospotted spider mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) is increased by direct and systemic exposure to imidacloprid.
Michigan State University: Molecular and Biochemical Basis of Plant-Insect Interactions
Journal of Applied Ecology: Neonicotinoid insecticide travels through a soil food chain, disrupting biological control of non-target pests and decreasing soya bean yield
And Unfortunately, other mites like the Varroa destructor Mites which are responsible for killing Honey Bee Hives, also are increasing as a result of Neonics

Image . The Wildlife News

 Photo by S. Bauer, ARS/USDA
We've often heard about how these Neonicotinoid pesticides are detrimental to honey bee colonies. After all, Neonics are an insecticide and honey bees are insects. It's clear that target insects directly sprayed with the Neonics are killed by the lethal doses of this pesticide, but Honey Bees who come in later contact with sprayed flowers are effected by sub-lethal doses by the residual presence of these Neonics. It's effect on the honey bee is to make it sickly and lethargic with no energy to groom itself of Mites or for that matter feed itself. This causes the bee to rapidly die. But while these Spider Mites and Varroa Destructor Mites are also insects, they appear to be uneffected in a negative way by the Neonics. In fact, oddly enough they appear to have more successful in egg hatchings and young Mite survival rates. Of course a big part of that is that predatory beneficial insects who normally control the mite populations are now gone. But the other odd anomaly is that the mites find the plant juices much tastier as a result of the Neonic pesticide's ability to influence epigenetic switches in immune system genes by turning them off. Normally this properly functional immune system in plants would manufacture chemical compounds which make the plant unpaletable or bitter to pest insect, but that's been shut down here. Big Science's answer to the mite problem is to invent new Miticides to eliminate to correct the problem. But we don't need more chemicals which may also cause other unknown consequences. This is just becoming more and more insane. Rather than type any further, below here are some excellent links addressing the effects of Neonics on Honey Bee population decline:
Are there any real world viable solutions ? Well sorta - It's Called ThermoTherapy

credit: Heather Grab

Andrena nasonii bees
Unfortunately, this new technological innovation above only deals with the symptoms of the ecosystem disfunction. While commendable and certainly a necessary product which would avoid  using more chemicals like Miticides, it is not the complete answer for the permanent solution to removing the cause. Industrial Agriculture is taking a massive toll on biodiversity in multiple ways. Monoculture not only provides a poor unhealthy diet for humans, but also for the beneficial insects assoicated along the margins of agricultural fields which are mostly sterile in the biodiverse flower pollen sense. This creates nutritional deficiencies on both the pollinator and predator diet which is causing smaller versions of offspring in these insects as the photo here of healthy ground bee versus unhealthy specimen. (Read the findings from Cornell University)  Industrial Agriculture deliberately turns a blind eye to these ecological findings by creating their own opposing research papers from bought and paid for corporate scientists which attempt to refute and smokescreen the evidence against their destructive business model. The religious affirmation we often hear chanted from the hallowed halls of science that it is self-correcting are nothing more than a farce. Science is only good at self-correcting if the caliber of moral character and bioethics are present in the human beings employed by the system. How well has that been working out for us ? I've previously written about some of the good research work being done with Chaparral hedges incorporated within the agricultural infrastructure as a means of biological pest management at UC Berkeley. There are also a plethora of such good viable research work done worldwide, but sadly, this type of research does not really see the public light of day because they do not have the power, influence and funding behind it to make any difference.

“Nature is not competitive. It is ruthlessly collaborative” - Spencer Smith
California Coffeeberry: Biodiverse Insect Magnet for Pollinators & Predators (Think Hedgerows)
Update: November 24, 2016 Reuters:
Canada may ban farm pesticide imidacloprid because it harms midges, mayflies
Don't count on any forthcoming solutions any time soon
Los Angeles Times (November 22, 2016)
"Court's rejection of a lawsuit over pesticides in seed coatings is a setback to beekeepers"
Oddly enough, this court position totally ignores what the EPA itself stated about the ineffectiveness of seed treatments with Neonicotaqinoids:
"EPA concludes that these seed treatments provide little or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment."
EPA: Benefits of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments to Soybean Production
Unintended Consequences on the Human body
National Pesticide Information Center - Imidacloprid - General Fact Sheet
Eco-Activism thus far has been a major disappointment in the self-correction goal
There seems to be very little hope in counting on many of these modern day militant EcoActivist groups to influence any type of bioethical self-correction within science. Many within their own leadership ranks are deathly affraid to criticize the Biotechs & other industrial entities because they cloak themselves with the cleric robe of the Scientific Orthodoxy's consensus. To do so would be considered by their leadership a sort of religious sacrilege or heresy. Instead of educating the public on how nature really works and providing the common man, woman and child with practical viable applications which work, the public is treated to their incessant ongoing public vitriol of an acerbic tongue, foul language, insults, lawsuits, and violent protests that destroy private property (not that of their enemy, but of their own people). How can such behaviour truthfully be a reflection of Nature if the ultimate goal is to education and instill deep appreciation within the hearts of their fellow man ? It's not. It's a repugnant turn off. In nature, beauty and mutual cooperation are the rule, not the exception. Their behaviour does not mirror anything about Nature.

Now we hear word from the Dakota Pipeline protest front that all is not well within the "We shall overcome" movement. The party animal house atmosphere has clouded the real reasons for being there according to this CBC News Reporter:
(please read: Reporter's notebook: Standing Rock is not the new Woodstock)                

Apparently the Non-Indigenous peoples (mostly white folk from the big cities) have turned the protester camps into a sort of new Woodstock or decadant Burning Man Festival on steroids with loud hip hop and rock music. This has offended the Indigenous Native Americans who were actually very serious about this Standing Rock pipeline cause. There appears to be now a cultural divide. The Native Americans want an atmosphere of comtemplative reflection and prayer ceremonies about the seriousness of their reasons for being there in the first place, while the non-indigenous white Eco-Activists have long since lost any admiration, appreciation or respect for anything of a spiritual nature in decades. Gus Speth's words are more illustrative than ever before as to how far down in the cesspit mankind's leadership has brought down our planet health with no real hope for any viable solution. At least many of the Native Americans still understand what is really missing. But will anyone listen ?