Should some pesticides be banned to protect bees?

Posted: Apr 12, 2011

Written by

TOM PHILPOTT, Grist

As I reported in January, the USDA's top bee researcher, Jeffrey Pettis, has publicly revealed that he has completed research showing that Bayer's blockbuster neonicotinoid pesticides, used on million of acres of crops across the country, harm honeybees even at extremely low doses.

The revelation was significant because a growing number of U.S. beekeepers are worried that Bayer's pesticides might be the key culprit in colony collapse disorder -- the strange annual die-off of significant portions of the U.S. honeybee population. In December, a leaked document showed that EPA scientists had declared insufficient a previously accepted Bayer-funded study purporting to show that neonicotinoids don't harm honeybees in farmfields.

News of Pettis' as-yet-unpublished study has generated very little press in the United States beyond my coverage. In the United Kingdom, though, it's made quite a splash -- so much so that the USDA scientist got an invitation to address Parliament on the question of pesticides and bees.

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