As the first North American bumble bee has been officially added to the list of endangered species in the U.S., the European government is making a move to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, which are widely believed to be a major contributing factor to the rapid collapse of the world’s bee and pollinator insect populations.
The European Commission (EC) has drafted regulations which would end the use of neonics, a family of agrichemicals which pose a “high acute risk to bees”. As The Guardian reports: “The EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of the three key neonicotinoids on some crops in 2013. However, the new proposals are for a complete ban on their use in fields, with the only exception being for plants entirely grown in greenhouses. The proposals could be voted on as soon as May (2017) and, if approved, would enter force within months.”
Other pesticides are also included in the ban, and for those who consider the loss of pollinator insects to be a most critical issue today, this is also good news.
However, the European Commission (EC) has decided to move towards implementing a complete ban, based on risk assessments of the pesticides by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), published in 2016.
The EC concluded that “high acute risks for bees” had been identified for “most crops” from imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by Bayer. For thiamethoxam, made by Syngenta, the EC said the company’s evidence was “not sufficient to address the risks”.
While agrichemical companies would like us to believe that more research is needed to disprove the presumption that these chemicals are of no harm to the environment and necessary to feeding the world, others insist we need to stop using them now.
The science is catching up with the pesticide industry – the EU and UK government must call time on neonics. Going neonic-free puts farmers more in control of their land instead of having to defer to advice from pesticide companies.
One has to wonder when the reality will sink into the public and political consciousness that bees and pollinators are critical to our lives, our food supply and even our economy.
As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bee pollination; one crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time.
For many others, crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honey bee pollination. In fact, a 1999 Cornell University study documented that the contribution made by managed honey bees hired by U.S. crop growers to pollinate crops amounted to just over $14.6 billion.
May 21, 2017