European Union bans neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere except greenhouses

European Union bans neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere except greenhouses

European Union bans neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere except greenhouses

Today's (27 April) decision by EU Member States to restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids to applications in permanent greenhouses has been called a "bad deal for the European agricultural sector and the environment" by Bayer.

Neonicotinoids will be banned from use in all fields by the end of 2018, and will only be allowed to be used in closed greenhouses. First approved for use in the European Union in 2005, neonicotinoids are highly toxic to insects and other invertebrates - far more so than to mammals, birds or reptiles - and they affect insects by targeting their central nervous system, paralyzing and then killing them, according to the EC.

"Beyond the costs for European farmers, the restrictions in place have already brought considerable unintended consequences: a lack of alternative solutions; more spray applications, leading to more Carbon dioxide emissions; an increased risk of resistant pest insects; and a return to older, less-effective chemicals", according to Bayer's statement. A scientific review conducted by the Pesticides Unit of the European Food Safety Authority showed that the outdoor usage of clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam poses a confirmed risk to bumblebees, solitary bees, and honeybees.

Campaign group Avaaz set up a petition urging Europe to ban the use of "toxic bee-killing pesticides", which has nearly five million signatures. The European Commission had recommended these measures months ago, "on the basis of the scientific advice from EFSA", Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, tells The Guardian.

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He added that farmers were "acutely aware" that bees played a crucial role in food production, and had planted 10,000 football pitches of flower habitat across the United Kingdom to support the insects.

After countries including the United Kingdom voted for the ban, a spokesman for the Environment Department (Defra) welcomed the further restrictions, as the weight of evidence showed the risk the chemicals could pose to the environment.

Sandra Bell, bee campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said that the "comprehensive" ban is a "tremendous victory" for our bees and the wider environment. We take bees and other pollinating creatures for granted at our peril. "There is a real risk that these restrictions will do nothing measurable to improve bee health, while compromising the effectiveness of crop protection".

Greenpeace said that several other insecticides are threat to bees, including four neonicotinoids now allowed by the EU. Research suggests that Taylor's concerns are unfounded, while the dramatic decline in pollinator populations - which will continue to occur without action - proves disastrous for food production.

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