European Union approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides

28 April, 2018, 10:54 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • This EU vote could make a huge difference to bees’ survival

"Member states' representatives have endorsed a proposal by the European Commission to further restrict the use of three active substances ... for which a scientific review concluded that their outdoor use harms bees", the European Commission said in a statement. Guy Smith, deputy president of the UK National Farmers' Union, said: "This decision doesn't change the fact that farmers will continue to face challenges to maintain sustainable and productive cropping systems, and the pest problems that neonicotinoids helped farmers tackle have not gone away".

Many environmental groups, including GreenPeace, applauded the EU's decision to ban neonicotinoids and said, while bee pollination makes up 35 percent of global crop production volume, more needs to be done for their protection given bees' role in food production and the environment, The Verge reported. The European Commission had recommended these measures months ago, "on the basis of the scientific advice from EFSA", Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, tells The Guardian.

The insecticides' blanket label "neonicotinoid" means "new nicotine-like" - a reference to the fact that, "They are chemically similar to nicotine", the European Union says.

The restrictions are meant to address the alleged risks the substances pose to bee health, but Bayer said that there were "better ways" to support bee health.

This is another blow to farmers at a time of significant uncertainty.

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"As evidence evolves and a threat to bees is confirmed then action must follow".

Sandra Bell, bee campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said that the "comprehensive" ban is a "tremendous victory" for our bees and the wider environment.

This followed advice from the United Kingdom government's advisory body on pesticides which said scientific evidence now suggests the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids - particularly to bees and pollinators - are greater than previously understood. The rapidly declining population of pollinator species in recent years is in part due to the widespread use of harmful pesticides.

Darryl Cox, senior science and policy officer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: "Neonicotinoid pesticides are really good at doing what they are created to do, they are applied to seeds, spread throughout the tissues of an entire plant, and kill off any pests which try to eat it".

"When new information is released, the EPA always takes a good look at the science, evaluating it to see if there's something we need to factor into our thinking here", says EPA General Manager for Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter.


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