EU ban on pesticide threat to bees

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The European Commission moved this week to restrict the usage of a chemical which has been linked to the demise of bees. The move follows a report last week from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) into the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and their effects of the bee population.

EU health and consumer policy commissioner Tonio Borg announced that the commission proposed a partial ban on the use of the pesticides, which are mainly used in the treatment of seed prior to sowing to prevent fungal attacks. The partial ban will be legally binding and will also be based on the “precautionary principle” and by the principle of proportionality.

Welcoming the move, Scottish MEP Alyn Smith said: “Last week’s report by the EFSA was hugely critical of the lack of precautionary action by the commission and it seems that the strong language has finally hit home. We have action at last.

“The importance of bees to our food producers has been overlooked for too long, and the alarming numbers of colony collapses are extremely worrying. What is becoming clear, however, is that the link between pesticides and these collapses is in desperate need of further examination.

“This research is already taking place in Scotland, in centres such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University, and I hope it will be front and centre of any future studies.

“With the annual value of pollination by bees being put in the region of €15 billion, we simply cannot afford to just wait and see. I am glad that the commission has finally woken up to the reality of what the decline of bees really means. It is better late than never.”