Today's (27 April) decision by EU Member States to restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids to applications in permanent greenhouses has been called a "bad deal for the European agricultural sector and the environment" by Bayer.
The 28 member states got a large majority, representing some three-quarters of its population, backing the ban on the three prevalent neonicotinoid pesticides which will take effect at the end of the year.
They are crucial to our ability to put food on the table each day as pollinators of plants, but the humble bumble bee and other bee species are facing a bleak future if things continue as they have. Although the European Union previously had a partial ban on using these particular pesticides on flowering plants that are particularly attractive to bees, that step was deemed insufficient given the continued harm they did to the bee population.
Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world's major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from "colony collapse disorder", a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or a combination of these factors.
Neonicotinoid use in greenhouses will still be allowed under the new restrictions, a decision environmentalists say could still pose serious threats to bees as the chemicals can leach into the water supply.
For more than a decade, populations of honey bees and other key pollinators have been declining.
This followed advice from the United Kingdom government's advisory body on pesticides which said scientific evidence now suggests the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids - particularly to bees and pollinators - are greater than previously understood.
"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.
The basis for the ban was the report of the head of the agrarian Commission of the European Union Paul Derra, who stated that in Europe beekeeping is under threat of extinction because of the mass death of bees.
Both Bayer and Syngenta have challenged the 2013 partial ban at the European Court of Justice. A verdict in that case is due next month.
"Beyond the costs for European farmers, the restrictions in place have already brought considerable unintended consequences: a lack of alternative solutions; more spray applications, leading to more Carbon dioxide emissions; an increased risk of resistant pest insects; and a return to older, less-effective chemicals", according to Bayer's statement.
The ban prohibits all outdoor usage of the neonicotinoid pesticides clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam.
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