European Commission Bans Three Pesticides For Two Years

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Policy makers in Europe just imposed a two-year precautionary ban on a type of pesticide until more is known about how it may affect bees.

The European Commission said it would be adopting a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the nenicotinoid family; including clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. An Appeal Committee voted on April 29, 2013 and failed to agree on restrictions for the pesticides. Because no qualified majority was reached, the responsibility of deciding whether to adopt the ban or not fell to the Commission.

“The Commission’s action is a response to the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) scientific report which identified “high acute risks” for bees as regards exposure to dust in several crops such as maize, cereals and sunflower, to residue in pollen and nectar in crops like rapeseed and sunflower and to guttation in maize,” the Commission said.

It said the main elements of its proposal to Member States include restrictions on the pesticides for seed treatment, soil applications and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals. Authorized professionals will be able to use the three pesticides still for study purposes.

The restrictions will begin on December 1, 2013, and the Commission said it would review the conditions of approval of the three neonicotinoids in two years.

The EFSA made some fundamental mistakes when reviewing the pesticides, including serious over-estimation of the amount of pesticide bees are exposed to in the field. ESFA also ignored key studies and independent monitoring, including recent data from the UK government.

Bee health decline is a growing problem, and experts are having a tough time pinpointing the problem, but a big majority of them partially blame pesticides. The US Department of Agriculture said the number of beehives decreased for the third consecutive year in 2009, dropping 29 percent.

National environmental groups launched a campaign on Earth Day called BEE Protective to try and protect honeybees and other pollinators from pesticides. The launch came a month after beekeepers, Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, and Pesticide Action Network North America filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

“These toxic chemicals are being used without scrutiny in communities across the country, so much so that we´re facing a second Silent Spring. A growing number of concerned citizens are ready to step up to protect bees; this new educational campaign will give them the tools they need to have an impact,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.