29.01.2013 |

EU Commission fails to ban bee-killing pesticides

Pesticides pose a risk to honey bees
Pesticides pose a risk to honey bees (Photo: Mamboman1)

The European Commission announced on Monday that, in response to a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) identifying risks posed to bees by ‘neonicotinoid’ pesticides, it will start to take some protective measures. However the Commission did not go far enough to placate environmentalists who, along with the EFSA itself, had called for a complete ban of neonicotinoid pesticides. According to the EFSA report, these widely-used insecticides affect the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. Recognising this concern, Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Tonio Borg said the Commission “will propose a series of ambitious but proportionate legislative measures”. However, he was criticised for stressing that “a total ban would not be justified.” Last week, in a debate in the European Parliament's environment committee, other opinions were voiced. Green MEP Bart Staes said: “While scientists and beekeepers have been sounding the alarm for almost two decades, there is now a wide and growing body of evidence on the devastating impact of neonicotinoids on bee populations. The only responsible course of action is to immediately push ahead with an EU-wide moratorium on neonicotinoids.” On 31 January, EU officials will discuss neonicotinoids further, and plan to announce an action plan following the discussions. It is generally accepted that the decline of bee populations poses a serious threat to agriculture. Two thirds of crops humans use for food production depend on pollination by insects such as bees. According to a UN report, the work of bees and other pollinators is worth 153 billion euros per year to the global economy.

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