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April 26, 2018 - April 27, 2018
From the BBC today:
EU member states support near-total neonicotinoids ban
Member states have voted in favour of an almost complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU. Scientific studies have long linked their use to the decline of honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. The move represents a major extension of existing restrictions, in place since 2013.
Manufacturers and some farming groups have opposed the move, saying the science remains uncertain.
Neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, but concerns about their impact on bees have been reinforced by multiple research efforts, including so-called “real world” trial results published last year.
Back in 2013 the European Union opted for a partial ban on the use of the three chemicals in this class: Imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The restrictions applied to crops including maize, wheat, barley, oats and oil seed rape. The newly agreed Commission regulation goes much further, meaning that almost all outdoor uses of the chemicals would be banned.
Voting on the proposal had been postponed a number of times as countries were split on the move. However, Friday’s meeting saw a qualified majority vote in favour of the ban.
And from the science community:
Global consensus finds neonicotinoids not driving honeybee health problems—Why is Europe so determined to ban them?
One of the more intriguing subplots in the melodramatic debate over neonicotinoids and the ‘future of bees’ is the apparent divergence of viewpoints by risk and regulatory agencies on the potential threat to pollinators posed by the insecticide.
There is no question that the health of bees is an issue––mostly, entomologists say, because of bee keeping practices, Varroa destructor mites (which vector roughly a dozen different diseases into beehives) and the widely prevalent gut fungus Nosema ceranae. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture in a March 2018 report and recent studies from agencies in Canada and Australia, where neonicotinoids are also widely used, seed treatments, which is how the insecticide is most commonly applied, are not a major health threat to honeybees.
Unlike chemicals that are sprayed on plant surfaces and remain on the plant, neonicotinoids are usually applied as a seed coating and are taken up throughout the plant—in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, pollen and nectar.
“I am not convinced that neonics are a major driver of colony loss,” said University of Maryland’s Dennis van Englesdorp, project director for the Bee Informed Partnership, and the entomologist who coined the term “Colony Collapse Disorder.”
This consensus is reflected in the trends of honeybee colonies, which have held steady or increased slightly in the US (22-year high in 2016) since the widespread adoption of neonics in the 1990s. Populations have increased significantly in Canada and Europe, reached a record high in Australia, and are at an all-time high worldwide.