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Portland Bans Insecticide to Protect Declining Honey Bees

Oregon's biggest city on Wednesday banned the use of an insecticide on city lands blamed by conservationists as a factor in the decline of honey bees in recent years. Despite protests from farmers who argued the insecticide was crucial for crop production, the Portland City Commission voted unanimously to immediately suspend use of products that contain neonicotinoids.

Such pesticides are widely used on crops and on plants as well as trees in gardens, parks and commercial nurseries. Portland brings to at least eight the number of U.S. municipalities, including Seattle and Spokane in neighboring Washington state, that have banned the chemicals amid what conservationists say is mounting evidence the insecticide is a culprit in the decline of bees and other pollinating insects.

Opponents like Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a coalition of farmers, foresters and other pesticide users, said findings by some scientists suggesting honey bees have been severely harmed by the insecticide have been refuted by other researchers. Scott Dahlman, the group's policy director, said the decision by Portland leaders was based on "fear and ideology" rather than sound science about bees and other pollinators, which are vital for food production.

Bee shortage threatens farmland 2:27

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--- Reuters