Earlier this week, the EU banned pesticides suspected of contributing to bee colony collapse for a two year period.
Italy, Slovenia and Germany had already banned the implicated neonicotinoids. Italians reported bee populations recovered dramatically after the ban and bee colony collapse is no longer an issue.
A quarter of the American diet relies on honey bee pollination.
Now, the U.S. government has released its own report on bee strife here. See the New York Times coverage for details.
Rodale reports that Italian researchers, and peers, are linking the use of neonicotinoid on corn seed as a likely culprit.
Researchers at Purdue University also link corn seed coating with neonicotinoids as the key culprit.
With that background, it's distressing to hear that the new USDA and EPA report cites a variety of factors as responsible and refused to ban any of the 100 chemicals implicated, saying the negative effects outweighed the positive ones.
Hear more from Bill Moyers and see the short film Dance of the Bees:
Even if a variety of factors are to blame, it's hard to understand why the EPA is recommending five more years of study before it proposes to take action.
Just how the Purdue study's bees were affected is described in this article in Mother Jones:
"Now, neonic pesticides likely have two separate effects on bees: an acute one during spring corn planting, when huge clouds of neonic-infested dust rises up, at doses that kill bees that come into contact with it. Those population losses weaken hives but don't typically destroy them. And then there's a gradual effect—what scientists call "chronic"—when bees bring in pollen contaminated at low levels by neonicotinoids. Research by the USDA's Pettis suggests that even microscopic levels of exposure to neonics compromises bees' immune systems, leaving hives vulnerable to other pathogens and prone to collapse."