The bee population has had it pretty rough, experiencing a rapid decline largely due to pesticides and other human activity. The European Commission finally has some encouraging news in the name of bees, announcing it would like EU member states to restrict the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on sunflower, maize, cotton, and rapeseed crops.
According to a report from the European Food Safety Authority, three of the most popular neonicotinoid pesticides pose a serious risk to honeybees. France has already banned one form of this pesticide for use on rapeseed crops last June.
“We are requesting member states suspend for two years the use of this pesticide on seeds, granulates and sprays for crops which attract bees,” said Frederic Vincent, Commission health spokesman. “We hope the regulation can be adopted before March.”
There would be one exception for maize seeds planted this year, which would authorize the use unless member states chose to implement their own restrictions.
One of the pesticide companies, Syngenta, has strongly defended its products against the claim that it contributes to the declining bee population, known as “colony collapse disorder.” The company claims to be “fully respectful of the environment” and that none of the allegations regarding their products had been proven. Chairman Martin Taylor says the bee population is in decline due to disease and poor nutrition.
Friends of the Earth disagrees. According to head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton, “the evidence linking neonicotinoid chemicals to declining bee populations is growing. It is time to put farmers and nature before pesticide company profits. Ministers must act quickly to support safe and effective alternatives to chemical insecticides.”
Whether it impacts bees as much as is now thought or not, would you agree that this is still a smart move?
Image CC licensed by Tom Bech: European honeybee