Rio Grande do Sul, Aug.21.– Death came swiftly for Aldo Machado's honey bees. Less than 48 hours after the first apis mellifera showed signs of sickness, tens of thousands lay dead, their bodies piled in mounds.
"As soon as the healthy bees began clearing the dying bees out of the hives, they became contaminated," said Machado, vice president of Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul beekeeping association. "They started dying en masse."
Around half a billion bees died in four of Brazil's southern states in the year's first months. The die-off highlighted questions about the ocean of pesticides used in the country's agriculture and whether chemicals are washing through the human food supply – even as the government considers permitting more.
Most dead bees showed traces of Fipronil, an insecticide proscribed in the European Union and classified as a possible human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January, Brazil has permitted sales of a record 290 pesticides, up 27 per cent over the same period last year, and a bill in Congress would relax standards even further ...
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