The Guardian has reported earlier this week, that the European commission has drafted regulations which would ban the most commonly used insecticides across Europe. The documents cite the “high acute risk to bees” that is posed by these insecticides, and suggest that a ban could in place this year, if the proposals are approved by a majority of the EU member states.
The plight of bees has become an international environmental concern. Earlier this year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service placed the rusty-patched bumblebee on its endangered species list. Here, the population of the species has plummeted 87%.
Meanwhile, a recent study by the Lincoln University stated that New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 million and $728 million a year if the local honeybee population continues to decline.
Bees are a crucial part of an area’s ecosystem, as we rely on them and other pollinators to sustain food crops. Their numbers have been steadily declining in recent years due to disease, loss of habitat and pesticide use. A particular group of insecticides, called neonicotinoids have been linked to serious harm in bees.
In 2013, the EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of three neonicotinoids on some crops. However, this new proposal goes a step further, calling for a complete ban on use of the neonicotinoids in fields, with the only exception being for plants exclusively grown in greenhouses.
The move is controversial, as farmers and pesticide groups have previously opposed such bans, arguing that insecticides are vital for crop protection. However, earlier this month, food and pollution experts from the UN issued a report that was severely critical of pesticides, arguing that their necessity was a myth, and called on a new convention to control their use.
The proposals could be voted on as early as May, and if approved, be in effect within months.