Thursday

17th Jan 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

COP24: Vanuatu in 'constant state of emergency' on climate

Ralph Regenvanu, foreign minister of the Pacific island Vanuatu, said at the COP24 talks in Poland it was disappointing the host country was promoting coal - but was happy with EU contributions to tackle climate change.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us