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EU Neonicotinoid Ban Circumvention and Agriculture

As reported by BBC, the day the EU decided to ban (some) neonicotinoid pesticides to protect bees, it seemed like a victory for green campaigners. The ban was not only promising for the general protection of bees and the environment, but it was a great relief for beekeepers who had suffered the devastating effects of these pesticides. However, not all EU Member States are abiding by the ban. In fact, there is an alarming situation in which some nations merely dismiss EU regulation. Greenpeace EU (part of the Bee Coalition) food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, has even recalled that some governments are opposing the ban in different ways. She stated: "the Polish government, for one, has not even pretended there is an emergency (to justify the continuation of neonicotinoid use). They said 'we oppose the ban and we are simply not going to allow it'. This is just another way of opposing the ban, allowing the use of these bee-harming chemicals for farmers".

Extract from BBC Radio 4 Morning news, coverage on neonicotinoid ban circumvention: Recovered from

Two dimensions of this type of opposition cause disturbing concerns. First, EU Member States have approved the ban earlier this year after evidence has shown the great risk neonicotinoids pose to bees. Besides the value of bees themselves, arguments of biodiversity and ecosystem balance were a strong point in improving control of pesticides used in the field. But, in disregard of the high toxicity of these products for bees and their negative impact on biodiversity and even the beekeeping sector, some governments continue to overlook EU regulation. By doing so, they maintain conditions of high risk which much differ from coherent "green" policies at both national and EU level. Furthermore, BBC correspondents raise the second issue. Farmers in Europe are currently in a situation of injustice. While some countries enforce the ban and both encourage and demand a change of practices from their farmers, others are doing exactly the opposite. The risks that neonicotinoids pose to bees points towards the necessity of change, but if that change is not generalised, the problem goes beyond bees. There seems to be no uncertainty among researchers and environmental protection agencies that the future does not include neonicotinoids, but the transition is undoubtedly costly because it involves a change of standard practices. Today, a farmer in the UK or France is demanded to undergo such laudable change for the improved protection of pollinators. Nevertheless, a farmer in Poland or Romania can continue with the use of such pesticides, circumventing not only the ban but the necessary costs that go along with it, which are essential for environmental protection. The issue of ban circumvention is worrying and has several dimensions to it. Today we can see that there is continuing malfeasance not only towards our bees, pollinators and the environment, but there is also a situation of injustice among farmers. Nonetheless, the solution is not turning back. Evidence shows where we need to head to improve the protection of our bees and our food security, but the effort needs to be a collective one.

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