Mobile phones could mean the end of civilization as we know it - by knocking out the navigation sensors of honey bees, thereby destroying crop-polinating bee populations and leading to massive crop failures.

That's the nightmare scenario envisaged by some scientists, reported by The Independent on Sunday , following research findings that could explain rapidly declining bee populations across the US and Europe.

A limited study at Landau University has found that when a mobile phone is placed near a hive, bees won't return to it - suggesting that mobile phone radiation interferes with bees' navigation systems.

The theory put forward by some scientists is that mobile phone and other radiation could be responsible for the sudden disappearance of bees in a phenomenon labelled as Colony Collapse Disorder, which was first reported in the USA last autumn. Since then, CCD has spread to Europe and is now being reported in the UK.

According to the Independent on Sunday report, in the US 70 per cent of the east coast and 60 per cent of the west coast commercial bee population have disappeared. This has led to fears that without bees to pollinate crops, harvests could fail. Other suggestions for the decline in bee populations, however, include changes in the natural environment.