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Congress Wants to Save Honeybees by Banning Some Pesticides

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images File Photo
Attempts to address the decline in the honeybee population has recently gained momentum in Congress.

At a hearing in April held by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, lawmakers heard from the Agriculture Department and the pesticide industry. Testimony focused either on the Varroa mite, best management practices or on the need for neonicotinoids. “The chemical class, when used properly, is vital to the success of our industry,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, in his testimony.

David L. Fischer, manager of Bayer’s bee care center, underscored the complexity of the problem, saying no one factor was to blame. “Contrary to the opinion of some anti-pesticide groups, extensive research has shown these products do not represent a long-term threat to bee colonies,” Fischer said.

Whether lawmakers agree depends on whose science they believe.

“If they want to be truly informed about the bee crisis,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, director of the food and technology program at Friends of the Earth U.S., “they need to rely on independent scientists, not scientists from Bayer.”

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