Pesticides Officially Linked to Bee Decline

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Honeybees are essential to the maintenance of our ecosystem, and some would say, even to the survival of our species. New research proves definitively that agricultural pesticide use is contributing to the massive die-off of honey bee populations.

When you think of bees, you may think first of honey, but the truth is that honeybees (and other bees) provide a valuable service in pollinating flowers that keep our crops producing (and reproducing). In fact, some scientists have posited that without bees, our species would go extinct!

Even if you don’t take such an extreme view, there is no question that the massive recent decline in bee populations world-wide is a threat to our food supply at the very least. Without bees, we are looking at most likely wide-spread food shortages, and possibly even famine in some parts of the world.

There has been much speculation as to the reason for the massive losses of our honey bees in recent years, but many have proposed that it is due to widespread pesticide use in “conventional” industrial agriculture.

This news story shows that this is, indeed, the case:

Environmentalists have long believed that a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids are at least partially responsible for the mass die-offs of honeybees. They are, after all, designed to kill insects. Government agencies requested more research to confirm this widely accepted claim, and now, they’ve got it.

A study published Thursday firmly links one particular neonic, imidacloprid, to the death of bees.

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Past studies have found that large amounts of neonics resulted in bee deaths, but these reports were met with criticism because they didn’t reflect what bees would encounter in real-life scenarios.

“This is one of the most compelling cases yet for the fact that neonics are harming bees,” Paul Towers, a spokesperson for Pesticide Action Network, wrote in an email to TakePart.

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Bees are vital to the world’s food supply. They’re responsible for one in every three bites of our food and pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year.

The White House announced plans to protect bees in May, including restoring bee-friendly habitats and refraining from spraying pesticides when honeybee hives are present, but did not ban the use of neonics on the crops that bees pollinate.

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Read the full article at TakePart.com.

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