Wednesday

7th Dec 2016

Ban on bee-killing pesticides postponed

  • Some 2.5 million people signed an Avaaz petition to protect bees. (Photo: Andreas.)

A ban on bee-killing pesticides was postponed on Friday (15 March) when member state experts failed to agree on a binding decision to end their use.

“The text was not adopted and now we’ll have to reflect on what to do,” Frederic Vincent, the commission's health spokesperson, told this website.

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 European commission proposed in January to ban three nenicotinoids found to affect the health of Europe’s dwindling bee population.

The commission’s proposal followed a report by the EU’s food watchdog European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides.

Most member states voted in favour of the ban but the qualified majority threshold needed to make it binding was not met.

Five member states abstained, including the UK, Germany and Bulgaria, while nine countries, including Romania, Hungary and Finland, voted against the ban.

The Brussels-executive can either refer a revised proposal back to a formal committee for review or send the original text to an appeals committee within two months.

“If again we are stuck with no qualified majority in the appeals committee, just like GMOs, the commission can itself adopt a regulation,” said Vincent.

The appeal vote would still need a qualified majority but this time against the proposal.

"If it fails to reach that, the proposal will be implemented and members cannot challenge it," the New-York-based campaign group, Avaaz, told this website.

But pro-environment advocates say big industry will attempt to water down the proposal.

“The scientific evidence is clear, but pesticides companies like Syngenta and Bayer will continue to lobby to delay a ban as much as possible,” said Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero in a statement.

Meanwhile, a number of member states, including Germany, say they favour the ban but with conditions.

Germany, along with other member states, wanted exemptions on the basis that the nenicotinoids kill the bees only when mixed with airborne particles of dust.

An EU diplomat close to the issue told this website Germany has demonstrated a technique that ‘glues’ the nenicotinoids onto the seeds and prevents them from ever going airborne.

The seeds are treated with an adhesive agent that makes it dust-free and abrasion-resistant, he noted. They are then sowed with a special machine to ensure the agents remain bound to the seed.

The dissenting member states wanted the commission to revise its proposal with the technical exemption.

The commission, for its part, refused but had included other exemptions that would allow member states to spray the pesticide directly onto the leaves when mixed with water either before or after the plant has blossomed.

“That is something that we really do not understand,” said the EU diplomat.

Focus

A world without waste

A garbage crisis in Naples, Italy, gave birth to the "zero waste" movement, but is the rest of Europe brave enough to change the way it thinks about trash?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  3. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  5. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  6. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  7. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  8. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  9. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  10. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  11. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  12. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals