The honeybees that pollinate one-third of Americans’ daily diet are dying, and in the eyes of some environmentalists one culprit may be a decades-old Environmental Protection Agency system.
The system is called “conditional registration,” and it’s essentially a way to get pesticides on the market quickly. But to environmentalists and other experts, the system has become too loose, letting some potentially dangerous pesticides on the market, or letting them stay there too long.
In the case of honeybees, insecticides conditionally registered in the early 2000s have been blamed for impairing the bees’ immune systems; in the past five years, the honeybee population has declined 20 percent to 30 percent each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“To continue to risk the collapse of our honeybee population and other insects that support our ecosystems is a tragedy,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental advocacy group.