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Bees protection: EU wants a two-year pesticide ban

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Friday, 01 February 2013

Bees protection: EU wants a two-year pesticide ban

The EU has launched a rescue plan for Europe’s dwindling honeybee colonies: a 24-month ban on three widely-used neonicitinoid pesticides that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says pose “high acute risks” to pollinators.
"We are requesting that member states suspend for two years the use of these [neonicitonoid] pesticides on seeds, granular atom sprays and for crops that attract bees – sunflower, maize, rape and cotton,” a spokesman for the EU health commissioner, Tonio Borg, told a press conference on Thursday (31 January).
The EU's proposals are based on an EFSA finding that the three seed-coating treatments – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – could potentially harm bees where they are attracted to crops, or exposed to pesticide dust or guttation fluid.
Around 16% of Europe’s honeybee colonies disappeared between 1985 and 2005 – with greater losses recorded in England, the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden. Insects such as honey bees and wild bees help pollinate around 84% of Europe’s 264 crop species and 4,000 vegetable varieties, contributing an estimated €22 billion to the EU's economy, STEP says.
But EU officials privately complain of “a kind of doubletalk” by Spain and other countries at the Agricultural Council slowing action behind the scenes. “Some member states say, ‘oh we like honeybees a lot’, but when it comes to doing something publicly, it’s suddenly difficult,” one source added. Much will now depend on the attitude of EU member states to the proposed ban. Following a meeting of the bloc's agricultural ministers on 28 January, Commissioner Borg was optimist, declaring that it was time for “swift and decisive action”.
At the EU level, a precautionary principle in the Union’s founding treaty obliges it to act where sufficient doubt about environmental or health risks is scientifically established, as the EFSA report has now done to the EU’s satisfaction.

Source: Euractiv