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Concern in South Dakota Over Bee-Killing Pesticides

PHOTO: Bees are disappearing in South Dakota and around the globe, and scientists say a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is contributing to the decline in bee colonies. Photo credit: miniperium/morguefile.com.
PHOTO: Bees are disappearing in South Dakota and around the globe, and scientists say a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is contributing to the decline in bee colonies. Photo credit: miniperium/morguefile.com.
May 18, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The sound of a buzzing bee may signal the threat of a sting, but it also means important pollinators are doing their job as part of a balanced ecosystem.

Elizabeth Ouzts, communications director for Environment America, says not only do bees keep gardens beautiful, they pollinate almost 70 percent of the crops that provide the majority of the world's food.

But she says bees are dying off at historic rates.

"Scientists are pointing to a complex web of factors that have led to these massive declines, but one clear culprit is a certain class of insecticides that share the same chemical properties as nicotine," she explains.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it will prohibit new uses of neonicotinoids, but Ouzts says the agency needs to go further and ban their use altogether.

Meanwhile, a White House task force on pollinator health is expected to release a draft proposal soon to address pollinator declines.

Ouzts says while government and corporations have a role to play, South Dakotans can also help by making their gardens bee-friendly.

"That's by including native wildflowers, flowering herbs and berries in their gardens,” she points out. “And that's a very local action they can take just in their backyard to help protect the honeybee."

Seattle, Minnesota and Oregon all have agreed to take some form of action against neonicotinoids, and the retailer Lowe’s recently announced it would phase out the use of neonicotinoids for sale and in garden plants.


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD