Bee-harming pesticides banned in Europe

Europe will enforce the world’s first continent-wide ban on widely used insecticides linked to serious harm in bees, after a European commission vote on Monday.

The landmark suspension is a victory for millions of environment campaigners concerned about dramatic declines in bees who werebacked by experts at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). But it is a serious defeat for the chemical companies who make billions a year from the products and also UK ministers – who voted against the ban. Both had argued the ban will harm food production.

The vote by the 27 member states of the European Union to suspend the insect nerve agents was supported by 15 nations, but did not reach the required majority under EU voting rules. The hung vote hands the final decision to the European commission (EC) who will implement the ban. “It’s done,” said an EC source.

Tonio Borg, health and consumer commissioner, said: “Our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the EFSA, [so] the European commission will go ahead with its plan in coming weeks. I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22bn annually to European agriculture, are protected.”

“This decision is a significant victory for common sense and our beleaguered bee populations,” said Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton. “Restricting the use of these pesticidescould be an historic milestone on the road to recovery for these crucial pollinators.”

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