European Union to ban world's most widely used insecticides

European Union to ban world's most widely used insecticides

European Union to ban world's most widely used insecticides

EU member states voted by qualified majority for a permanent ban on the outdoor use of three types of "neonicotinoid" pesticides after an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority confirmed in February the risk they posed to bees.

The ban will mean that neonicotinoids, among the world's most widely used insecticides, can only be used in closed greenhouses after it comes into force by the end of 2018.

The move to ban the insecticides followed a number of scientific studies linking their use to population declines in bees and other pollinators. First approved for use in the European Union in 2005, neonicotinoids are highly toxic to insects and other invertebrates - far more so than to mammals, birds or reptiles - and they affect insects by targeting their central nervous system, paralyzing and then killing them, according to the EC. The risk neonicotinoid insecticides poses on both honeybees and wild bees as well as concerns for food production and the environment brought the European Union to its announcement on Friday going above its 2013 restricted use.

Campaigners have warned that the pesticides are contributing to falling populations of bees.

Reacting to Friday's decision, Bayer CropScience, the biggest seller of neonicotinoids, called it "a sad day for farmers and a bad deal for Europe".

Moving forward, European nations will not allow three popular neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, to be sprayed on fields. In a statement this morning, chemical giant Bayer said it "remains convinced that the restrictions are not warranted" because "neonicotinoids are safe".

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In a tweet this morning, the Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said that the decision is "vital" for biodiversity, food production, and the environment.

Many farmers, it said, had no other way of controlling pests and the result would be more spraying and a return to older, less effective chemicals.

"It is also puzzling that Member States were asked to take a decision at this time, since the verdict of the ongoing court case (scrutinising the legal basis of the 2013 restrictions) has not yet been delivered; this is due on 17 May", the group continued.

Some groups, including sugar-beet growers have argued the ban could affect their ability to produce crops such as wheat and sugar beet, Bloomberg reports.

Greenpeace said France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta supported the ban. SumOfUs is part of the European Save the Bees Coalition, which is working to implement a full ban on neonicotinoids.

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