Neonicotinoid EU ban to go ahead

Despite strong public support for a ban and the voluntary dropping of products by businesses in the UK and continental Europe, the European Commission was unable to reach a qualified majority of member states in support of the ban last month.

But on Monday, despite not achieving a qualified majority for or against, the Commission could use its powers to bring in the ban. Fifteen of the 27 member states voted in favour, but the United Kingdom voted against.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson sent all 27 member nations a note following last month’s vote saying there was insufficient “real-world, not theoretical” evidence showing the pesticides were harming bees and other pollinators.

Pesticide manufacturers Bayer CropScience and Syngenta have also lobbied strongly against the ban. Luke Gibbs, spokesperson for Syngenta UK said that EFSA’s research “ignores a wealth of evidence from the field that these pesticides do not damage the health of bees. Instead of banning these products, the Commission should now take the opportunity to address the real reasons for bee health decline: disease, viruses and loss of habitat and nutrition.”

Environmental groups such as the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth, however, applauded the decision, calling it a victory for pollinators. The Soil Association’s Head of Policy, Emma Hockridge, argued the manufacturer’s claims that the ban would be ineffective, stating that local bans in Europe had already shown promising results. “In Italy, where the government has taken decisive action and banned certain neonicotinoids pesticides, deaths of honeybees in winter subsequently fell by more than 50% in three years.”


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