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Bee-killing neonicotinoids found in 63% of streams across America


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(NaturalNews) A specific kind of insecticide that has gained worldwide notoriety after being linked to adverse effects on honey bee populations has been discovered in more than half of streams sampled at various locations around the country, Reuters reported recently, citing a study by government researchers.

The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Chemistry and which was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), found that five types of insecticides that are known as neonicotinoids were present in varying levels in 149 samples taken from 48 streams.

As Reuters further reported:

At least one type was detected in 63 percent of the samples collected, USGS researcher Michael Focazio said. The samples included many waterways through the Midwest and Southeast. Concentration levels varied.

Over the last few years evidence has mounted that links the use of neonics, as they are known, to widespread die-offs of honey bees needed to pollinate crops. There are also fears the insecticides are harming other pollinators.

Record losses of bee populations

Neonicotinoids are similar, chemically, to nicotine. They are among the fastest-growing class of insecticides around the world and are used in both urban and rural environments. They are very popular with farmers and are commonly applied to seeds before they are planted.

The USGS study is the first of its kind measuring nationwide occurrences of neonicotinoid insecticides in the environment, in both agricultural and urban settings, the agency said. Researchers took measurements in 24 states and Puerto Rico.

"In the study, neonicotinoids occurred throughout the year in urban streams while pulses of neonicotinoids were typical in agricultural streams during crop planting season," said USGS research chemist Michelle Hladik, the report's lead author, in a statement.

Neonics and the impact that they are having on the environment have been a growing topic of debate in Washington, D.C., of late. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule in May to create temporary pesticide-free zones to protect commercial honeybees.

The rule is aimed at protecting honeybee populations that pollinate plants producing roughly one-quarter of the food consumed by Americans. Managed honeybee population losses hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 to April 2015, an increase from 34.2 percent from the previous year, and the second-highest annual loss to date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

For more breaking news on how chemical pollution is affecting bee populations, check out Bees.news, powered by FETCH.news.

Mystery ailments killing the pollinators

Meanwhile, beekeepers, environmental groups and some scientists are publicizing evidence that the neonics are harming the bees. But agrichemical companies like Bayer and Syngenta dispute that assertion and are instead blaming mite infestations and other factors. In any event, the Obama Administration has formed a task force to study the problem.

An informational page on the USDA website notes that honeybee populations are suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious phenomenon "defined as a dead colony with no adult bees or dead bee bodies but with a live queen and usually honey and immature bees still present." The site adds that they cause of CCD is still undetermined.

The informational site further notes:

Since the 1980s, honey bees and beekeepers have had to deal with a host of new pathogens from deformed wing virus to nosema fungi, new parasites such as Varroa mites, pests like small hive beetles, nutrition problems from lack of diversity or availability in pollen and nectar sources, and possible sublethal effects of pesticides. These problems, many of which honey bees might be able to survive if each were the only one, are often hitting in a wide variety of combinations, and weakening and killing honey bee colonies.

CCD, the Department of Agriculture says, may even be a combination of some of these conditions.

A year ago, Natural News reported on efforts to ban the use of neonicotinoids in the American northwest and Hawaii by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in an effort to save honeybees and other pollinators vital to the growing process.





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