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Pesticides banned over bee deaths

France and Germany back ban but UK votes against European Commission plan

29 April 2013

PESTICIDES linked to bee deaths are to be banned in the European Union for two years from December 1.

The ban on widely-used neonicotinoid chemicals comes despite intense lobbying by the chemicals industry which led to just 15 of the 27 EU member states backing the ban. France and Germany voted in favour but the UK voted against, saying the science was incomplete, but does not have an opt-out on enforcing the measure.

Neonicotinoids in pesticides are thought to harm bees and honey bees are said to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world's crop production.

The chemicals imidacloprid and clothianidin, made by Bayer, and thiamethoxam, by Syngenta, will not be allowed to be sprayed on flowering crops such as maize, cotton, sunflower and rape.

The European Commission ban comes after a European Food Safety Authority study in January found that the pesticides posed a risk to bees but the chemicals companies and many in the farming industry say there is insufficient data.

Bee expert Lynn Dicks, of the University of Cambridge, said that the Commission had “erred on the side of caution”.
Photo John Severns

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