Environmentalists and beekeepers are calling on the government to ban some of the country's most widely used insect-killing chemicals.
The pesticides, called neonicotinoids, became popular among farmers during the 1990s. They're used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops, including the biggest crop of all: corn. Neonics, as they're called, protect those crops from insect pests.
Two young workers died in flowing corn at this commercial grain storage complex in Mount Carroll, Ill., in 2010. OSHA regulates 13,000 commercial grain bins like these. But grain bins on 300,000 family farms are largely exempt from OSHA regulations.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
The commercial grain industry responded to a record number of grain entrapments and deaths in 2010 with more safety videos, publications and training programs.
"Have tragic incidents still happened? Yes," says Jeff Adkisson, who heads the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. "Are we working to reduce them further? Absolutely."
Randy Gordon, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, sees no need for additional regulations. "The [occupational safety and health] standards, we think, are very adequate to address this danger," he says.