In a monumental decision which was many years in the making, all member nations of the European Union have authorized a complete outdoor ban of neonicotinoids, the most commonly used insecticide on the planet and a well-documented threat to bees as well as other pollinators.
The ban focuses on insecticide compounds known as neonicotinoids. The ban will prohibit outdoor utilization of the chemical compounds. In a statement, the European Commission explained that those chemicals will only be permitted to be used in permanent greenhouses in which contact with bees is not likely.
Bee populations are still plummeting throughout the world, a source of major concern, considering the fact that plants that rely on pollination comprise 35 percent of global crop production volume. The EU has established that the protection of bees is a top priority given their part in food production and the environment.
The vote follows recent studies which have affirmed the threat that neonicotinoids pose to pollinators, directly and via water and soil contamination. “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from [the EU‘s scientific risk assessors],” Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety explained. “Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”
Not only have these insecticides been associated with the dramatic declines in bees as well as other pollinators, they are also suspected in declines in numerous other insect species, in addition to insect-eating birds and bats. Even earthworms are being damaged by neonicotinoids.
Environmentalists are praising this recent development. Farmers and developers of these pesticides, on the other hand, aren’t too happy. The European Commission says the regulation will be adopted in the coming weeks and become applicable by the end of this year.