EU-wide citizens’ actions and petitions in support of the European Commission’s proposal to prohibit three neonicotinoid insecticides secure enough support amongst Members States for the ban to be enforced. This decision shows that Europe is concerned about the dramatic decline of pollinators and their essential role to our environment and our food.
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From December 1st 2013 onwards the application of three neonicotinoids - imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin - will be prohibited throughout Europe for a two-year period. Their use by non-professionals, e.g. private gardening, is completely banned. However, neonicotinoids treatments will still allowed for treating crops that are not attractive to bees such as winter cereals, in greenhouses, and for seed production.
For the two year period when the ban is applicable, producers such as Syngenta, BayerCropScience and Sumitomo Chemical will need to provide risk assessments on the exposure of bees to pesticides through pollen, nectar, honeydew and guttation water. The agro-chemical industry reacted angrily to the EU Commission’s decision to enforce the ban; claiming that is disproportionate and that it will pose risks to Europe’s agricultural production.
The measures proposed by the European Commission will significantly reduce the exposure of insects, including bees, to neonicotinoids. However, it will take time to observe a real recovery due to the high amount of neonicotinoids that have been used to date; their persistence in the water and soil and given that some applications of these products will still be allowed for use.
Francesco Panella spokesman for the European Beekeeping Coordination said, "The prohibition of systemic insecticides is a first step in the right direction to save bees and life in our fields. The decision is a great encouragement for good agricultural practices and for the preservation of Europe’s soil fertility. We must now ensure that the EU-Commission will act upon it to produce a coherent policy linking agriculture to nature and to life."
Stephanie Roth campaign coordinator at ARC2020 said, “The Commission’s ability to enforce the ban is due to unprecedented citizens’ action throughout Europe. It is the millions of people from EU-members states ranging from the UK to Bulgaria and from Germany to Greece who wrote to their Ministers and who took their messages to the streets that made this change for better happen. Let's remain vigilant to ensure that harmful pesticides including neonicotinoids remain banned once and for all.”
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