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700 of 4,000 native Bee species in North America and Hawaii believed to be inching toward Extinction: Study

Habitat loss, heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations

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FILE - Bees are pictured on a hive. VOA
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US, Mar 3, 2017: More than 700 of the 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii are believed to be inching toward extinction because of increased pesticide use leading to habitat loss, a scientific study showed Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there were sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 were declining. Furthermore, 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” its author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.

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Habitat loss, heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.

Experts from the center reviewed the status of 316 bee species and then conducted reviews of all available information to determine the status of a further 1,121 species. The center said the species for which data collection was insufficient were also presumed to be at risk of extinction.

Among the native species that are severely threatened are the Gulf Coast solitary bee, the macropis cuckoo bee and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is now rarely seen.

First endangered bee

Last month, the rusty patched bumblebee was listed by federal authorities as endangered, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such protection.

Bees provide valuable services: The pollination furnished by various insects in the United States, mostly by bees, has been valued at an estimated $3 billion each year.

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The center’s Kopec noted that almost 90 percent of wild plants are dependent on insect pollination.

“If we don’t act to save these remarkable creatures, our world will be a less colorful and more lonesome place,” she said. (VOA)

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three years

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three yearsRate of autism in US reduced in the past three years
FILE - Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, in Omaha, Nebraska, May 23, 2014. VOA

Miami, Jan 2, 2018: After more than a decade of steady increase in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

The findings were based on a nationwide study in which more than 30,000 parents reported whether their children had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“The estimated ASD prevalence was 2.41 percent among US children and adolescents in 2014-2016, with no statistically significant increase over the three years,” said the research letter by experts at the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The first observation of a plateau was made by a separate group in 2012, when the rate flattened out to 1.46 percent, according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Federal health authorities say that means about one in 68 children in the United States have the neurodevelopmental disability, whose causes remain poorly understood.

The ADDM had documented a “continuous increase from 0.67 percent in 2000 to 1.47 percent in 2010.”

The 2.4 percent rate described in the JAMA report translates to one in 47 children, but researchers cautioned that the discrepancy may be explained by “differences in study design and participant characteristics.”

The JAMA report, based on the annual National Health Interview Survey, did not delve into “underlying causes for the findings and cannot make conclusions about their medical significance.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a plateau in the autism rate in 2016, but said it was “too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize.” (VOA)

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