The EU is to restrict the use of three pesticides for up to two years due to fears they cause serious harm to bees, which could cost Europe’s farmers more than €2 billion and 20% loss in crop yields.
The debate over pesticides has been going on since January when the UE health watchdog EFSA released the results of a scientific review which showed three widely used neonicotinoids pose an "unacceptable" risk to bees and potentially other insect pollinators.
Since then talks have already broken down twice, and when in this week’s meeting in Brussels EU governments were still unable to agree the European commission took action, according to press reports.
Health and consumer commissioner Tonio Borg is reported as saying, "Since our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health, the commission will go ahead in the coming weeks. He added, "I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22bn annually to European agriculture, are protected."
A statement from Syngenta, which makes one of the three neonicotinoids, said, "The proposal ignores a wealth of evidence from the field that these pesticides do not damage the health of bees." The company called on the commission to focus on addressing "the real reasons for bee health decline: disease, viruses and loss of habitat".
Globally, insects provide pollination services to about 75% of crop species
The FT reported that the ban, believed to be the first continent-wide moratorium on neonicotinoids, will take effect from 1 December unless any new scientific evidence emerges.
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