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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid