Ban on insecticides close in Europe
Syngenta and Bayer CropScience on Monday acknowledged that European Union (EU) member states for the second time failed to agree on the European Commission’s proposal for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. The latest decision should compel the commission to return to the negotiating table rather than forcing through the implementation of a ban, the companies contend, but a ban is anticipated to take effect shortly.
Reuters (Britain) reported a ban on pesticides containing neonicotinoid active ingredients will be imposed even after the degree of disagreement that occurred in deliberation about protecting bee populations. Reports are that 15 country representatives voted against a ban, but a ban will proceed. Exactly when a ban will take effect has not been clarrified.
Some recent studies have shown neonicotinoids can have damaging effects on bee health by interfering with their homing abilities and making them lose their way. Britain and some other countries argue that the science is inconclusive and advise caution in extrapolating results from lab studies to real-life field conditions. Almost every insecticide has the potential to kill bees, but a large percentage of scientists are certain bee population decline is definitely not mainly attributable to neonicotinoids.
Experts note that one of the key difficulties in establishing the potential danger lies in how to find out how much of the pesticides the bees come into contact with as they forage, and the degree to which this might lead to fewer bees.
Many scientific studies point to a virus spread by a parasitic mite called the Varroa as a prime suspect in fuelling so-called "colony collapse disorder" which has seen bee numbers drop rapidly in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are nicotine-like chemicals and act on the nervous systems of insects. They pose a lower threat to mammals and the environment than many older pesticide sprays. They can be applied to the soil, the plant or seed for planting and taken up by the plant, and, therefore, referred to as "systemic"—basically meaning they render the plant toxic to insects.
BRITAIN RESEARCH CONTRARY TO A BAN
A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January said three widely-used neonicotinoids, made mainly by Switzerland's Syngenta and Germany's Bayer, posed an acute risk to honeybees, and this has resulted in the EU controversy about banning the insecticides.
Britain's DEFRA published a report in January in which it said its research "did not show conclusively that exposure to neonicotinoids used within a normal agricultural setting had major effects on bumble bee colonies".