With Australia catching up.
Bee colonies are collapsing around the world, but local beekeepers are fighting for the tiny but mightily important insect’s future.
They’re doing it by rejecting the use of pesticides, imported pollen and ‘fake’ honey.
Simon Mulvany, a beekeper from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and founder of Save The Bees Australia, is on a mission: To help save the nation’s honey bees, and give consumers a clear choice between imported and local honey.
For the past three years, the single father has been embroiled in a legal battle with the nation’s largest honey producer, Capilano Honey, after accusing the company of selling “toxic” imported honey and passing it off as Australian.
Nimbin was a pleasant experience. Small grocery shops with beautifully arranged fruit and vegetables. A wide range of local art with me spending large on cards and prints. A tasty vegetarian breakfast of roasted vegetables and salad with haloumi and a decent hot coffee.
So disappointed to see contractors spraying grazon on our road verges and next to drains. It is still raining on and off here too.
A jury found the weedkiller Roundup had been defectively designed and its makers acted negligently. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay more than $2bn to a couple that got cancer after using its weedkiller, marking the third and largest verdict against the company over Roundup.
A jury in Oakland ruled Monday that Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, was liable for the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) cancer of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The jury ordered the company to pay $1bn in damages to each of them, and more than $55m total in compensatory damages.
The victory for the Pilliods follows two consecutive trial wins for families taking on Monsanto over Roundup, the world’s most widely used weedkiller, which research has linked to NHL, a cancer that affects the immune system. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, won a $289m victory in state court last year, and Edwin Hardeman, who sprayed Roundup on his properties, was awarded $80m in the first federal trial this year.
The latest verdict is the largest by far and will increase pressure on Bayer, which has suffered share price drops in the wake of the verdicts and is now facing similar lawsuits from thousands of cancer patients, survivors and families who lost loved ones to NHL.
The juries have repeatedly ruled that Roundup was defectively designed, that the company failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks, and that Monsanto has acted negligently. The cases have uncovered internal Monsanto documents that plaintiffs’ lawyers say reveal the ways in which the company has “bullied” scientists over the years and helped “ghostwrite” research defending the safety of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.
Trump EPA insists Monsanto’s Roundup is safe, despite cancer cases
Bayer and Monsanto have continued to argue that Roundup is safe to use and does not cause cancer. They are appealing the verdicts.
“Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe,” R Brent Wisner, one of the Pilliods’ attorneys, said in a statement after the verdict. “Instead of investing in sound science, they invested millions in attacking science that threatened their business agenda.”
The Pilliods, who are in their 70s and live in Livermore, 40 miles east of San Francisco, used Roundup for more than 30 years to landscape their home and other properties. In 2011, Alva was diagnosed with systemic NHL in his bones, which spread to his pelvis and spine, and Alberta was diagnosed with NHL brain cancer in 2015. Both are in remission but testified about lasting damage from the cancer.
Michael Miller, another attorney for the couple, noted that the judge in this case permitted the legal team to present significant evidence about Monsanto’s conduct, in contrast to previous trials, where evidence was severely limited.
“We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup’s severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind,” he said in a statement.
Bayer said it was “disappointed” in the decision and would appeal. The company cited the continuing approval of glyphosate by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and “the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based”.
Internal documents uncovered in the trials have repeatedly shone a harsh light on Monsanto’s close relationship with US regulators. The lawsuits began piling up after a key 2015 ruling by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which said glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate that there are now 13,400 similar Roundup cancer cases pending in state and federal courts in the US.
Plans to create octopus farms in coastal waters round the world have been denounced by an international group of researchers. They say the move is ethically inexcusable and environmentally dangerous, and have called on private companies, academic institutions and governments to block funding for these ventures.
The researchers say that farming octopuses would require the catching of vast amounts of fish and shellfish to feed them, putting further pressure on the planet’s already threatened marine livestock.
The group, led by Professor Jennifer Jacquet of New York University, argues that octopuses are highly intelligent, curious creatures. Farming them intensively would probably cause large numbers of deaths from stress. “We can see no reason why, in the 21st century, a sophisticated, complex animal should become the source of mass-produced food,” Jacquet told the Observer. “Octopuses eat fish and shellfish, and supplying enough to feed large numbers of them puts further pressure on the food chain. It is unsustainable. Octopus factory farming is ethically and ecologically unjustified.”
There are about 300 species of octopus and many behave in surprisingly sophisticated ways. Some have been shown to use tools, for example. In one experiment, scientists observed octopuses building shelters from pieces of coconut shell. “Once octopuses have solved a problem, they retain long-term memory of the solution,” the researchers state in a paper in Issues in Science and Technology.
A London council is growing a seven-mile long “bee corridor” of wildflowers in an effort to boost the numbers of pollinating insects this summer.
Brent Council in north London is sowing 22 wildflower meadows in the borough’s parks and open spaces, which together will form 50,000sq m of new flowering spaces and stretch seven miles in length.
The council said it believed the initiative to be the first of its kind in the capital.
The authority said workers were ploughing plots that have been picked as meadow areas. Once the ground is ready, seeds including ragged robin, cowslip and common poppy are to be sown to encourage more visits from pollinating insects.
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One million of the world’s species are now under threat of extinction, according to the biggest-ever review of the state of nature on Earth.
- The report, which draws on 15,000 scientific and government sources, says human use of land and sea resources are mostly to blame
- The decline in nature is happening at rates that are unprecedented in human history, the UN report reveals
- More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened
The UN-backed report was three years in the making and was based on systematic reviews of 15,000 scientific and government sources.
Among a vast number of alarming findings is that the average population size of native species in most habitats on land has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900.
More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are now under threat.
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said Sir Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which put together the report.
The IPBES has 132 nation-members and is known as the equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but for biodiversity.