Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

EU wants partial ban on bee-killing pesticides

  • Bees - essential for pollinating crops (Photo: Brad Smith)

The drop in bee populations in Europe prompted the European Commission on Thursday (31 January) to propose a two-year partial ban on three neonicotinoid insecticides.

“We want to suspend for two years the use of these pesticides on crops such as sunflower, oil rapeseed, maize and cotton,” Federic Vincent, EU spokesperson for health, told journalists in Brussels.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The EU’s food watchdog European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a report in January linking the pesticides to bee decline across Europe. The chemicals are a class of insecticides that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death.

The report is now under review by experts from each member state with a final decision to be made before March for any proposal on a EU-wide regulation.

Further scientific evidence and studies released in March last year found that bees in contact with neonicotinoids suffer an 85 percent drop in the number of queens produced in each hive, reports the Guardian. The chemicals were also shown to disorient the bee, making it unable to return to the hive.

France, Slovenia and Italy have already introduced national bans on the neonicotinoids. But both the UK and Germany are reportedly showing some resistance to the idea. German manufacturer Bayer CropSciences makes some of the chemicals found in the pesticide as does Swiss-based Syngenta.

The industry resistance and the commission’s reluctance to implement a complete ban on using the chemicals has generated criticism from pro-green groups.

“Europe’s politicians should prioritise saving the bees rather than listening to the short-term interests of the pesticide industry. A complete ban of all neonicotinoids is the least we can do to stop the collapse of our bee colonies,” Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes said in a statement.

For its part, Greenpeace welcomed the commission’s proposals but said the Brussels-executive also stops short of recommending a precautionary ban on the use of neonicotinoids with all crops where EFSA could not assess risks.

Over 80 percent of the main 264 crops cultivated in Europe rely on animal pollination, mostly by bees, while around 90 percent of wild plants rely on bee pollination, according to the United Nations Environment programme.

A spokesperson at the campaign group Avaaz, which handed over an anti-neonicotinoid petition of 2.2m signatures to Brussels, told this website that some member states have seen 50 percent decline in their populations.

Some farmers are now forced to hire beekeepers to release their hives in order to pollinate their crops.

“You now have companies that have hives with thousands of bees and they will drive around Europe and take them into farmer’s fields,” Avaaz spokesperon Iain Keith told this website.

Doubts over EU chemical agency after weedkiller study

Green MEPs and health pressure groups said the European Chemicals Agency could be suffering from conflicts of interest, after it said there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the world's most widely used weedkiller causes cancer.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  2. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  3. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  4. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'
  5. Ukraine spy agency bars Russian Eurovision singer
  6. Turkish president Erdogan threatens Europeans
  7. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  8. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EJCExpresses Concern That Extremists Still Have the Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  3. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  4. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  5. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  7. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  8. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  9. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  11. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  2. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  3. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  4. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  5. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  6. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  7. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  8. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale