Bee-harming pesticides banned across the EU

Friends of the Earth Malta commended the Maltese authority’s support for the ban, but Greenpeace EU say that the banned pesticides are just ‘the tip of the iceberg’

European governments have backed a European Commission plan for a near-total ban of three bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides
European governments have backed a European Commission plan for a near-total ban of three bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides

European Union governments have voted for a near-total ban of three bee-harming insecticides on outdoor crops.

The ban will extend a 2013 partial ban of three bee-killing neonicotinoids.

Representatives from 16 countries voted in support of the EU ban, including Malta, while four countries opposed the ban and eight abstained.

Environment NGO Friends of the Earth Malta applauded the Maltese government’s support for the ban. “This comprehensive neonicotinoid ban, covering all outdoor crops, is a tremendous victory for our bees and the wider environment.”

But they said that the European Commission must focus on “developing a strong pollinator initiative that boosts bee-friendly habitat and helps farmers cut pesticide-use.”

“Many farmers are already successfully growing crops without neonicotinoids. But too many other damaging chemicals and practices are still used. Farmers need more support from the European Commission and national governments to farm with nature – not against it.”

FoE is proposing that the government draw up a national strategy for bees and pollinators linked to biodiversity and climate change actions, food security and farming and farming initiatives and rural and urban development plans.

“This is already available in other European countries including the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Wales, all Ireland, France and Norway,” Director of FoE, Martin Galea De Giovanni, said.

“Our lives would be poorer in many ways in a world without bees. We take bees and other pollinating creatures for granted at our peril. They are vital for a resilient, thriving natural environment and for stable, healthy food supplies including the varied, colourful and nutritious diets we have come to expect.”

While commending the ban, Greenpeace EU food policy adviser Franziska Achterberg said that there was never any question that these three neonicotinoids had be banned.

“Now the EU must make sure that they are not simply swapped with other harmful chemicals. These three neonicotinoids are just the tip of the iceberg – there are many more pesticides out there, including other neonicotinoids, that are just as dangerous for bees and food production,” she said, calling for governments to ban all bee-harming pesticides.

Greenpeace said that several other insecticides are threat to bees, including four neonicotinoids currently allowed by the EU.

“Failure to address the wider chemical burden on bees could mean that farmers simply replace banned chemicals with other permitted chemicals that may be just as harmful,” the organisation said.

In order to avoid this, Greenpeace proposed that the EU ban all neonicotinoids , as France is already considering, apply the same strict testing standards to all pesticides, and dramatically reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and support the transition to ecological methods of pest control.

The countries supporting the ban were France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.

Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Denmark opposed the ban.

The abstaining countries were Poland, Belgium, Slovakia, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

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