EU bans three pesticides linked to bee death

Irish beekeepers have welcomed an EU ban on three pesticides which are being blamed for the deaths of millions of bees worldwide.

Aside from honey production, honey bees are a vital part of global food production as they pollinate about one third of the world’s food — increasing its yield as much as threefold.

It is estimated that insect pollination, over two thirds of which is done by honey bees, is worth €153bn per annum globally.

However, the Irish Beekeepers’ Association’s spokesman, Phillip McCabe, who is also president of the worldwide bees association, Apimondia, said the Government here is not supporting the beekeepers.

“We had been working for a number of years trying to get the governments of the world, and in particular the EU, to ban these chemicals.

“It was not until the European Food Safety Authority [EFSA] took up the challenge that we had limited success.

“But there were two votes in the EU parliament earlier this year and our minister for agriculture voted against the proposed ban in the first vote at the end of January and abstained in April.”

The ban on three neonicotinoids (neuro-active insecticides) came into force yesterday after earlier scientific research linked the neonicotinoid-based pesticides — clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — to damaged bee colonies.

The Department of Agriculture said it initially opposed the legislation as it wanted to further examine the scientific evidence. It later backed a compromise bill which was not accepted by the commission and so abstained in the second vote.

The commission proposed the ban after the EFSA concluded in January that the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees.

A spokesman for Bayer CropScience said: “Bayer remains convinced neonicotinoids are safe for bees, when used responsibly and properly… clear scientific evidence has taken a back seat in the decision-making process.”

Last month, German chemical company BASF launched a legal challenge against the European Commission’s ban of BASF’s insecticide fipronil, imposed in July due to fears its seed treatment is linked to declining bee populations.

British beekeepers and farmers’ associations have criticised the ban saying it will cause more pyrethroids, an older insecticide which are sprayed on plants, to be used.

The EU-wide ban will be either lifted or made permanent within two years after studies into its effects are published.

Environmental campaigners like Greenpeace have welcomed the EU move as “a crucial first step” but said further measures such as promoting biodiversity and ecosystem protection is still vital if bees are to be given a fully functioning environment.


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