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Studies fault Bayer in bee die-off

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Meanwhile, officials with the manufacturer, Bayer CropScience, say they are confident that the research will continue to prove the product is safe for bees when used appropriately.

"I tend to believe that science will win out over emotion," said Jack Boyne, director of communications for Bayer CropScience.

The beekeepers and others say they filed the emergency petition because they fear that the EPA's review process will deliver a verdict too late for the nation's honeybees and the farmers who rely on them.

"Seventy percent of crops – apples, oranges, zucchini, melons, strawberries – they all need pollinators," said Vera Krischik, an associate professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota who studies the pesticides and bees. "It's a huge issue."

Then there are the unknown numbers of bumblebees, wasps, butterflies and other wild pollinating insects that fill the same role across the natural world.

"We are headed in a very dangerous direction," Ellis said.

Anderson said beekeepers have always been on the front lines of the nation's pesticide wars; that's how he got into business in the first place. His wife's grandfather moved his California beekeeping business to Minnesota in the early 1960s after another pesticide, Sevin, critically damaged his agricultural pollinating business.

Anderson went on to win a landmark case at the Minnesota Supreme Court against the state Department of Natural Resources over pesticide drift that killed his bees.

Like Ellis, he is among the gypsy beekeepers who follow the seasons, pollinating almonds, cherries and other crops in the South and West in winter and returning to Minnesota in the spring to make honey.

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