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Minn. beekeeper joins lawsuit against EPA

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A Minnesota beekeeper is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over pesticide regulations.

Steve Ellis is one of four beekeepers from across the country who allege that the EPA has failed to protect bees from pesticides. 

The farmers say the EPA has not adequately regulated neonicotinoid pesticides, are absorbed by plants on which the insects feed who feed on the plants could ingest toxic chemicals. The pesticide is suspected of contributing to declining bee populations around the country.

Five environmental groups also joined the lawsuit.

Paul Towers, with Pesticide Action Network, says the EPA could protect bees by restricting use of the pesticide, "When bees are present, when they're pollinating crops or when crops are blooming and they might be exposed. There are simple and easy steps the agency can take to ensure a robust supply of bees and a healthy agricultural system." 

"EPA has continued to ignore the warning signs of an agricultural system in trouble," Towers said. "The shortage of bees for this year's almond pollination in California and the ripple effects throughout the rest of the agricultural system are a clear warning sign and deserve an urgent response."

Beekeepers want the court to suspend use of the pesticides until a regulatory review is completed. 

An EPA spokesman says the agency does not comment on active litigation.