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Bee populations are at risk around the world. Photo: Ted S. Warren / AP

Neonicotinoid pesticides — known to be harmful to bees — are present in 75% of honey samples from around the globe, per a new study.

The big picture: The detrimental effects of these pesticides have been observed in multiple studies of bee populations in the United States and Europe, but this study is the first to find neonicotinoids are present all over the world. There is "no place in the world" safe from contamination for bees, Alexandre Aebi, one of the researchers, told Axios.

The pesticide, from Axios' Erin Ross: Neonicotinoids have been in use since the 1990s. They can be sprayed on a plant, but they're generally coated on seeds and then taken up by the plant and expressed in their leaves. The pesticides were thought to be environmentally friendly because they're only supposed to harm insects that bite the now-poisonous plants. But they can also be expressed in plant pollen, which is how bees are exposed.

The study: Scientists conducted their research as a citizen science project, taking contributions from amateur scientists around the world. They found an average neonicotinoid concentration of 1.8 nanograms/gram in honey samples. The pesticide begins to show harmful effects in bees at a concentration of 0.1 nanograms/gram, but the European Union puts the toxic level for humans at 10-15 nanograms/gram, Aebi said.

What's next: Aebi said the world should follow the example of France, which is banning the use of neonicotinoids starting in 2018. But it's worth noting that though the study shows that neonicotinoids are present in samples worldwide, there isn't yet corresponding evidence that bee populations in areas outside the U.S. and Europe are in decline, even though the science suggests they are, says conservation biologist Jeremy Kerr.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.