The UK Soil Association has welcomed today’s decision by the EU to suspend the use of the three neonicotinoid pesticides (clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid).
Emma Hockridge, Soil Association Head of Policy said: “This is a victory not only for the bees and other pollinators, but for independent science against the political, pro-pesticide position adopted by UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and the pesticide industry. The European Commission and many European governments have reacted responsibly to the British and European scientific evidence showing clearly that a suspension is justified.”
Organic farming proves that systemic insecticides such as neonicotinoids are not needed to produce food. Also, there is strong evidence that a ban on neonicotinoids would work. In Italy, where the Government has taken decisive action and banned certain neonicotinoids pesticides, deaths of honey bees in winter subsequently fell by more than 50% in three years.”
A recent synthesis of 39 studies on 23 crops around the world published earlier this last month in the journal Ecology Letters confirms that wild bees are more abundant in diversified systems such as organic farms.
The landmark suspension is a victory for millions of environment campaigners concerned about dramatic declines in bees who were backed 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 both argued that the ban will harm food production.
“Today’s pesticide ban throws Europe’s bees a vital lifeline, following a massive campaign backed by 2.6 million people,” said Iain Keith, at Avaaz. “Europe is taking science seriously and must now put the full ban in place, to give bees the breathing space they need.”
The vote by the 27 member states of the European Union to suspend the insect nerve agents was supported by most nations, but did not reach the required majority under EU voting rules. However, the hung vote hands the final decision to the European commission (EC) who will implement the ban. “It’s done,” said an EC source, indicating that a formal announcement on the ban is expected within weeks.