EU bans neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere except greenhouses

The risk neonicotinoid insecticides poses on both honeybees and wild bees as well as concerns for food production and the environment brought the EU to its announcement on Friday.

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Image Credit: Genetic Literacy Project

Outdoor use of neonicotinoid insecticides, blamed for the widespread killing of bees, is set to be completely banned by the European Union. The risk neonicotinoid insecticides poses on both honeybees and wild bees as well as concerns for food production and the environment brought the EU to its announcement on Friday going above its 2013 restricted use.

“All outdoor use of the three substances will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where no contact with bees is expected.”

While the EU acted in accordance with scientific research from the European Food Safety Authority, it will completely ban three substances (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) known as neonicotinoids everywhere except greenhouses.

The way neonicotinoids work is by “integration throughout a plant’s structure,” NPR reported. Instead of staying on the surface of the plant – such as its leaves – the chemicals are sent to the “flowers, pollen and nectar,” which attacks bees’ nervous systems when encountered killing the crucial pollinators and keeping others from laying eggs.

“Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU’s Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said.

Bayer CropScience, Europe’s biggest seller of neonicotinoids, reacted to the ban by saying it “will not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators” and instead, it is “a sad day for farmers and a bad deal for Europe.”

Many environmental groups, including GreenPeace, applauded the EU’s decision to ban neonicotinoids and said, while bee pollination makes up 35 percent of global crop production volume, more needs to be done for their protection given bees’ role in food production and the environment, The Verge reported.

The ban will be “adopted in the coming weeks and become applicable by the end of this year,” The Verge reported.

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