Europe’s bees are in sharp decline, with up to 50 percent of colonies dying out in some parts in recent winters. Now the EU has voted to ban three pesticides linked to bee deaths.
Roger Waite from the EU Commission explained:
“The formal decision will take a number of weeks because we have to translate the text, but we have now taken the political decision that this proposal to restrict the use of these active substances from the first of December will enter into force.”
Ahead of the vote, protestors, including bee keepers from across Europe, gathered to demonstrate outside the European Commission in Brussels.
Beekeeper, Hélène Kufferath, told Euronews: “The damage to the bees is terrible because it’s the neurotransmitter of the bee which is attacked, which means that the bees don’t know how to find their way back to their hives anymore, so they get lost and they die”
15 member states voted in favour of banning the three neonicotinoids with 8 countries voting against and 4 abstaining.The UK was one of those opposing the ban, arguing there is insufficient data to prove the chemicals are harming bees.
A report by the European Food Safety Agency in January 2013 found that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.
The UN has described the worldwide decline in bees as “potentially disastrous” because of their vital role in pollinating our food. Out of the 100 crops that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, 70 are pollinated by bees.
Many activists are calling for the EU’s ban to go even further. Marco Contiero from Greenpeace told Euronews: “In a recent scientific report, we identifed seven substances which do pose very serious problems to bees and other pollinators. We would like the Commission to not only act on these neonicotinoids, but also to take into account the scientific evidence proving that all of these other substances are as toxic as the ones that will be banned soon.”