News / Science & Technology

EU Hopes Pesticide Ban Will Halt Bee Decline

The European Union hopes a two-year ban on three of the world’s most widely-used agricultural pesticides can reverse the decline in bees and other pollinators. (Photo: Adam Vanbergen)
The European Union hopes a two-year ban on three of the world’s most widely-used agricultural pesticides can reverse the decline in bees and other pollinators. (Photo: Adam Vanbergen)
Rosanne Skirble
The European Union has decided to impose a two-year ban on three of the world’s most widely-used agricultural pesticides.

The move follows a report in early April from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that the three pesticides pose an acute risk to honey bees, which are vital to food production.  
 
The targeted farm chemicals, which will be banned for two years starting this December 1, belong to a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. They are a type of insect nerve agent that has been widely used for more than a decade.

Although the chemicals’ manufacturers say field tests have shown the pesticides pose no threat to bees, a recent British honeybee field study found evidence to the contrary, and that was enough to convince 15 of 27 EU member governments, and the executive European Commission, to support a ban.  

EU Hopes Pesticide Ban Will Halt Bee Decline
EU Hopes Pesticide Ban Will Halt Bee Declinei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Adam Vanbergen, an ecologist with the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Britain, says some of the evidence against neonicotinoids is debatable, but much of it is troubling.

“There were abundant laboratory studies that were showing some worrying signs," he said. "It’s sad to say that the evidence wasn’t as strong in the field. But then it is much more complicated to demonstrate cause and effect in field situations.”  

Vanbergen says that in the absence of any systematic monitoring, it will be hard to determine the impact of the ban and whether it can reverse the decline in pollinator populations.  

He directed a study, released last week by the Insect Pollinators Initiative of the United Kingdom, that compiled years of research on threats to pollinating insects. It found that a variety of factors is responsible for the decline, including pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, spread of disease and alien species.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
“My concern about the neonicotinoid issue is that to an extent it may distract attention from the bigger picture," Vanbergen said. "We really do need to try and manage our landscapes much more sympathically towards biodiversity. And pesticides are a part of that without question. But I’m a little bit worried that people may go away thinking that moratoriums such as this are going to solve the issue.”  

Vanbergen hopes the EU moves forward with new research on how farmers can employ pest control techniques less reliant on toxic chemicals.  

"But also we should be exploring alternatives to better manage pests in agricultural systems and that may well include integrated pest management strategies," he said, "where pesticides are a sort of judicious last resort to outbreaks of pests, and they are not used in a sort of prophylactic way.”

Vanbergen adds that the fate of the bees and other threatened insect pollinators, such as butterflies, wasps, flies and beetles, is a matter of food security, not only in Europe, but around the world.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Spiro from: USA
May 11, 2013 8:09 AM
I understand the problem maybe caused by multiple factors but the easiest ones to eliminate are the ones we created like the neonicotinoid group of pesticides. So lets start there.


by: Don Sampson from: Galena, OH
May 02, 2013 9:11 PM
I live in the suburbs north of Columbus, OH and I have noticed a distinct decrease in the number of bees in our area. Our street is lined with flowering trees and not a bee to be found. 20 years ago trees such as these would be abuzz with many types of bees - it's like The Silent Spring of the bee world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid