EU bans bee-harming pesticides

EU member states have agreed to ban insecticides that are known to be harmful to wild and honeybees from all fields. The ban is expected to come into force by the end of 2018.

The EU has agreed to ban the outdoor use of insecticides due to the harm they cause wild and honeybees that are vital to global food production.

Bees and other insects pollinate three-quarters of crops, but their numbers have been declining in recent years, in part due to the use of pesticides.

Now, EU member states are to ban a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids from use in all fields within six months.

Three neonicotinoids – Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam – will be affected. Their use is already banned for oilseed rape, spring cereals and sprays for winter cereals, although they can be used to treat sugar beet, various horticultural crops and as seed treatments for winter cereals.

Last year, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said there was a growing weight of scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and other pollinators, according to a statement published by the UK government’s Department for Environment (Defra).

Government research estimates the value of the UK’s 1,500 species of pollinators to crops at up to £680 million per year.

A Defra spokesperson commented in the statement: “We are committed to enhancing our environment for the next generation, and welcome the vote today in support of further restrictions on neonicotinoids.

“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids may pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators is greater than previously understood.”

Photo credit: Brad Smith/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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