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Sunday 27 May 2018

EU nations back ban on insecticides to protect honey bees

A bee hovers near a peach flower that bloomed early in Ain Jdedah village in Mount Lebanon March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/File Photo
A bee hovers near a peach flower that bloomed early in Ain Jdedah village in Mount Lebanon March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/File Photo

European Union countries backed a proposal on Friday to ban all use outdoors of insecticides known as neonicotinoids that studies have shown can harm bees.

The ban, championed by environmental activists, covers the use of three active substances - imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.

“All outdoor uses will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where exposure of bees is not expected,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Bayer called the ban “a sad day for farmers and a bad deal for Europe” and said it would not help bees. Many farmers, it said, had no other way of controlling pests and that the result was more spraying and a return to older, less effective chemicals.

"Since 2013, there has been a moratorium on the use of three neonics - imidacloprid, clothianadin and thiamethoxam - on flowering plants that are attractive to bees such as maize and oilseed rape," Mairead McGuinness MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament has confirmed said.

"These neonicotinoids are currently used as seed dressings on winter cereals in Ireland*. A study published by the European Food Safety Authority (28 February) said that these neonicotinoids represent a risk to wild pollinators and honey bees. These finding have led to today's vote.

"The Commission asked member states to vote to extend the ban to all outdoor production crops including non-bee attractive crops such as winter cereals, fodder beet and sugar beet."

In light of the vote, the Commission will propose legislation to restrict the use of these three insecticides to controlled conditions inside greenhouses, according to McGuinness.

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"As evidence evolves and a threat to bees is confirmed then action must follow. This will pose a challenge to cereal growers who depend on treated seed to prevent and control diseases and pests and will require that alternative tools are found for growers," she added. 


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Reuters