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A class of insecticides popular with corn and soybean farmers in America's Midwest, but feared as a factor in the decline of honeybee colonies, has been found to be widespread through rivers and streams in Iowa, according to a government study released Thursday. The study, released by the U.S. Geological Survey, marks the first broad-scale investigation of multiple neonicotinoid insecticides in waterways in the Midwest.

The report is based on an analysis of 79 water samples that were collected during the 2013 growing season from across Iowa, the top U.S. corn-producing state. Researchers said the use of neonicotinoid insecticides has grown in recent years, and they found them to be both "mobile and persistent" with "a strong pulse of neonicotinoids associated with crop planting" in streams. The researchers said the broad use of the neonics should be "closely examined in relation to environmental impacts."

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— Reuters