Ecological Focus Areas turn into Insect Death Traps


PRESS RELEASE

Louvain-La-Neuve, 31 May 2017

Yesterday, bad news for bees, pollinators and our food security came from the AGRI committee of the European Parliament, as parliamentarians blocked a regulation proposing to ban the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas. As its name indicates, these areas are dedicated to ecology and biodiversity development and nature conservation. Thanks to this vote, initially beneficial areas will be transformed into insect death traps.

The purpose of EFAs was initially the protection and development of biodiversity in agricultural areas, and not directly the production of commodities. As a result, their management ensures the attraction and settlement of different living beings by providing nutritional and habitat resources. This has proved beneficial not just for nature conservation, but in terms of productivity as well. Biodiversity contributes indirectly, through pollination, pest control or nutrient cycling, to the increase in yields of surrounding crops. Indeed, studies done on a worldwide level showed a increase in crop yields of an average of 25% simply by allowing pollinators to live and do their job[1].

Unfortunately, yesterday, 30 euro-parliamentarians, headed by Albert Dess, preferred agro-chemistry to an agriculture in balance with nature and health. In practical terms, they are promoting areas with high appeal for biodiversity that are later sprayed with pesticides. This is a corruption of greening principles, a shot in the foot for farmers themselves and a threat to our food security.

Francesco Panella, president of Bee Life, says: “It is absolute madness, as well as completely counterproductive, to attract bees and pollinators to specific areas only for them to be killed afterwards. Thank to measures like this, euro-parliamentarians transform potential positive greening measures into weapons of mass destruction endangering our survival and food security. With measures like this euro-parliamentarians will not help solve the pollinator crisis we are currently experiencing”.

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[1] Yields of carrots by +32%, peas by +26%, wheat by +12%, as shown by Campbell, Biesmeijer Varma & Wäckers, 2012, Wäckers et al https://fnt.hogent.be/fntsite/assets/File/Felix%20Wackers.pdf also https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/sites/agri-eip/files/eip-agri_fg_ecological-focus-areas_final-report_en.pdf ; Garibaldi LA, Carvalheiro LG, Leonhardt SD, Aizen MA, Blaauw BR, Isaacs R, et al. From research to action: enhancing crop yield through wild pollinators. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2014;12: 439–447. Available: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/130330; Garibaldi LA, Carvalheiro LG, Vaissière BE, Gemmill-Herren B, Hipólito J, Freitas BM, et al. Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms. Science. 2016;351: 388–391. doi:10.1126/science.aac7287

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