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2.6 million dead bees make stinging point about pesticides

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A truck loaded with 2.6 million dead bees made its final stop earlier this month on the 22nd of June at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in downtown Washington, said First Post. It arrived after a two-week trip across the United States sponsored by a group calling itself Keep the Hives Alive. The Keep the Hives Alive organizers said they were only a portion of the the bees that died between April 2015 and April 2016 in the US alone. Of the 2.8 million bee hives in the country, 840,000 of them were completely wiped out in that period. According to a study supported by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), beekeepers in the US lost 44 percent of their colonies, or groups of hives, in the past year.

Bees are important because about 84 percent of the crops grown for human consumption — from fruits and vegetables to nuts and sunflowers — must be pollinated by bees and other insects to increase their yields and quality. The US government has acknowledged the problem, which has been a cause of concern worldwide for more than a decade. The USDA defined the problem as colony collapse disorder in 2006 after receiving reports about large-scale bee deaths in the US.

Environmentalists have long suspected pesticides are a major factor behind the bee die-offs, and Wednesday's protest sought to urge policymakers to take action to ban certain pesticides that are known to harm bee populations. Activists attribute bee deaths to a widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

In Europe officials are examining their own response to colony collapse disorder. The European Union banned neonicotinoids in 2013 over the same concerns linking the pesticides to bee deaths. Scientists with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are currently reviewing the ban, which could potentially lead to a rollback of the ban.


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