Europe Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticide Blamed for Declining Bee Population

April 30, 2013

And Europe moves ahead of the rest of the world on an environmental issue once again…

Throughout the European Union today, environmentalists celebrated a solid victory in their efforts to protect the dwindling population of bees around the world. 15 of the 27 Union member states have voted to ban neonicotinoid insecticides, widely suspected to be responsible for the decline. The ban will be in effect for two years, giving the European Commission time and strength to ban it for good across the EU.

“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,” said Tonio Borg of the European Commission, and Friends of the Earth’s Andrew Pendleton said that “this decision is a significant victory for common sense and our beleaguered bee populations.”

According to The Independent, more than 30 scientific studies have found a link between neonicotinoids and the dying bee population. Without bees, we can’t survive, and that’s why this ban is so important. Bee numbers are declining around the world, with some beekeepers reporting losses of around 30 percent in recent years.

British bee researcher Dave Goulson recently published some alarming findings from a study of the effects of neonics on wild bumblebees:

In their experiment they fed some bumblebees nectar laced with amounts of neonics similar to what you’d find on, say, sunflower or corn crops. Meanwhile they kept a control group of bees pesticide-free by putting their nests outside on their university campus, “and just (letting) them grow as bumblebee nests do.”

Weeks later they brought the nests in and measured a key indicator of bee hive health: queen bee production. Each year it’s the queens who go out and start new hives. Without them, bee populations die off.

Goulson’s team found a huge difference between the pesticide-free bees and the bees exposed in the lab — an 85% drop in queen production.

So while the United States is busy protecting Monsanto from lawsuits, the European Union is trying to do something to protect bees, which are vital to the survival of every species on Earth. We could learn a thing or two from the old world.

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