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Expert: Save The Bees (And Our Food), Buy Plants Without Neonicotinoids

CHICAGO (CBS) -- If you have a yard or a garden, you might want to ask some questions next time you're buying flowers or seedlings at a nursery or anywhere plants are sold.

The main question you want to ask at the store is this: Was this rosebush - or this zucchini plant, or whatever - treated with neonicotinoid, the most widely used insecticide in the U.S.?

"The problem is, it gets into the pollen, into the nectar, into other parts of the plant that bees and other pollinators eat," said Dr. Greg Mueller, chief scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

When the insecticide neonicotinoid gets into a plant, and a bee visits that plant, then what happens to the bee?

"They have bad consequences from that," Mueller said. "They lose their ability to navigate. They sometimes feed less after that. If the dosage is high enough, it could actually cause death, just straight out."


The bottom line is bees and other pollinators are critical for much of our food, so their decline is not good.

"It's a big problem for anybody who likes to eat," he said. "Without pollinators, we're going to lose much of our food supply."

Mueller said it's sometimes hard finding plants without neonicotinoids, and that's why it's important for people to ask at the store any time they buy plants destined for their garden.

"If the public demands plants that don't have neonicotinoids in them, eventually the producers will respond to that pressure," he said.

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