European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides

A Victory for Bees and Other Pollinators

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 13, 2018

A native bee pollinates the flowers of a strawberry plant. European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides.
Alarmed by a massive decline in bees and other insects that pollinate food crops, the European Union voted on April 28, 2018 for a permanent ban on three bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. The new regulations ban the outdoor use of the three most widely used neonicotinoids— imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam— in EU member states. Regulations are expected to take effect by the end of 2018.

Neonicotinoids: Most Widely Used Insecticides in the World

Introduced in the 1990s, neonicotinoids (also known as neonics) are the most widely used insecticides in the world. Unlike older insecticides, neonics are not usually sprayed on the plants, but applied to plant seed. The pesticide becomes part of the plant’s tissues. Bees and other pollinators then feed on the plant’s contaminated pollen and nectar. Even tiny amounts of ingested neonicotinoids attack the bees’ nervous systems and cause damage to their movement, learning, and memory. According to scientists affiliated with the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, “In the case of acute effects alone, some neonics are at least 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.”

The use of neonics is a direct threat to human food security. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bees and other insects pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide most human food.

“In the case of acute effects alone, some neonics are at least 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.”

Neonicotinoid Risk to Bees and Wild Pollinators

In 2013, the European Union placed a moratorium on three kinds of neonics, forbidding their use in flowering crops like corn, sunflowers, and oil rapeseed that appeal to honey bees and other pollinating insects.

Map of the EU showing ban on Imidacloprid, Clothianidin and Thimethoxam.  European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides.Over the next five years, dozens of worldwide scientific studies not only confirmed neonicotinoids’ link to declines in bees and other pollinators, but also showed harmful effects on insect-eating bird populations. In February 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), after reviewing 1,500 studies, concluded “most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides represent a risk to wild bees and honey bees.” The European Union vote to ban the major neonics followed this report.

The question remains, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of the harm caused by neonics, when will Canada’s regulatorily timid government truly begin to protect our priceless insect and bird populations?

More articles:

Where Have All the Bees Gone?Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Clues to the Disappearance of a Vital Pollinator

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