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Trump Reverses Ban on Pesticides in Wildlife Refuges, Threatening Endangered Birds and Bees

October 22, 2019
In Trump’s crosshairs: The piping plover (Charadrius melodus), a small shorebird that nests and feeds along North American coastal beaches, is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. But now it is one of hundreds of species that face the new threat of deadly neonicotinoid pesticides, which could be unleashed on U.S. wildlife refuges following President Trump’s reversal of a ban that has been in place for the past five years. (Photo credit: Mdf/Wikimedia Commons)

Center for Biological Diversity: The United States’ 566 national wildlife refuges are the world’s largest collection of lands set aside specifically for the preservation of imperiled fish and wildlife. These forests, wetlands and waterways are vital to the survival of thousands of species, including more than 280 protected under the Endangered Species Act. But now, in a huge giveaway to the pesticide industry, the Trump administration has greenlighted genetically engineered (GE) crops and toxic pesticides on these public lands. This action reverses a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do just the opposite: ban GE crops and neonicotinoid pesticides throughout the refuge system. And so now 150 million acres of important pollinator and bird habitat will be exposed to increased pesticide use—without considering the risks to the nation’s most endangered species, as required by law.
>>>Urge the USFWS to drop this plan and protect the nation’s wildlife refuges from pesticides.

Care2: A new study has shown that nearly 60 percent of wild coffee species are under threat due to climate change, and several coffee bean species may already be extinct. While the coffee we drink usually comes from cultivated plants and not these wild varieties, the future of coffee—and the livelihoods of many people in underprivileged countries—may depend on wild coffee species. That’s because wild coffee species have traits that can help us future-proof our domestic coffee as climate change and rising disease take their toll—something that researchers say is already happening. Big coffee chains are making mega-profits off the back of coffee, and it is up to them to use some of that wealth to help safeguard wild coffee.
>>>Urge Starbucks, Dunkin’, Lavazza and other major coffee companies to publish concrete strategies that they will use to support wild coffee production and coffee farmers.

Lady Freethinker: Right now, thousands of “pet” primates in the United States are suffering. Held captive by humans, these social, intelligent and emotionally complex animals become depressed, aggressive or diseased—with no hope of a natural life. In the primate pet trade, babies are ripped away from their mothers, who may be forced to breed over and over again by unscrupulous dealers. All primate species—from tiny monkeys to larger apes, such as chimpanzees—are unsuited to life away from their own families. And when they’re no longer cute and compliant, their guardians will often confine them to tiny cages where they’re more easily controlled, or may sell them or attempt to re-home them in overcrowded sanctuaries. But the animals will never lead normal lives, and are forever psychologically damaged. While some states have primate pet bans in place, there is no federal law. The Captive Primate Safety Act aims to address this by banning the sale or purchase of nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade, both from foreign countries and across state lines.
>>>Urge Congress to pass the Captive Primate Safety Act.

Cause for concern…

Profiting from pollution: An oil rig off the coast of Ventura, California. Just 20 fossil fuel companies, both investor- and state-owned, are directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1965, according to new data from the Climate Accountability Institute. Chevron heads the list of the eight investor-owned firms, followed by Exxon, BP and Shell. Combined, these four firms are behind more than 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in the modern era. (Photo credit: mmcothern/Flickr)

Round of applause…

Skin trade: Anti-fur protesters demonstrate outside Nordstrom in San Francisco in 2010. On October 12, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products—making the state the first in the nation to do so—and bar most animals from circus performances. (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

What we’re reading…

In his new book Food Town, USA: Seven Unlikely Cities That are Changing the Way We Eat (Island Press, 2019), food writer Mark Winne takes a tour of surprising and inspiring food destinations—Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Sitka, Alaska; Alexandria, Louisiana; Boise, Idaho; Youngstown, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; and Portland, Maine—to uncover how healthy, sustainable fare is transforming and revitalizing communities impacted by inequity, obesity and the opioid epidemic. While Winne found that most of the cities he visited “either have a food policy council, network, or coalition,” he was particularly struck by how individual action was the genesis of change. “Whether we’re talking about a for-profit entrepreneur, an elected official, a community organizer, or someone who may rise to the level of visionary … the drive and imagination of a relatively small number of people is what’s elevating the food scene.”

Sarah C. Beasley offers a guide to applying compassion and empathy in our relationships with animals in her new book Kindness for All Creatures (Shambhala 2019). Using the Six Perfections of Buddhism as a foundation, Beasley, a senior lay practitioner in the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, offers insight into how empathy can deepen our relationship to both domestic and wild animals—from pet adoption and breed-bias, to the philosophical difference between ownership vs. guardianship, to the conservation of wildlife and habitat. “On the path to compassion,” she says, “our tasks are to deepen our respect for all creatures and their unique consciousnesses and to find ways to benefit them.”

The unique art of vegan sweets takes center stage in Sweet + Salty (Da Capo Lifelong, 2019), by chef and confectioner Lagusta Yearwood, who uncovers why certain key ingredients can present ethical problems for chefs and consumers, like chocolate (“made with questionable labor practices, including human trafficking and the use of child slaves”) and sugar (“land grabs … that displace indigenous people, deforest and destroy already fragile ecosystems, and threaten habitat loss”). But as her plant-based, cruelty-free recipes for cakes, caramels, truffles, toffee and more demonstrate, desserts can be even more delectable when they’re made with sustainably sourced, fair-trade ingredients. Lagusta, a self-proclaimed “fake back-to-the-land anarcho-punk,” offers this advice: “Ask questions, contact companies. Feel good about what you’re working with so intimately in the kitchen.”

Parting thought…

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” —Rachel Carson

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