Should Europe ban neonicotinoids? In 2013, the EU introduced restrictions on the use of the controversial pesticides (neonicotinoids are a family of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine). Now European Union Member States are set to vote on even tougher restrictions on 12-13 December 2017.

Environmental campaigners argue that “neonics” are harming bee populations globally, potentially causing immense ecological and economic damage as bees act as pollinators for crops and other plants. However, many farmers argue that they rely on neonicotinoids and that food prices would inevitably go up without them (or that farmers would be forced to switch to other pesticides without properly assessing the impact, possibly even increasing the risk to bees).

Since the existing restrictions came into effect, some farmers have been reporting a related increase in crops lost. However, some governments are convinced that farms need to switch to alternatives; France has already decided to go ahead unilaterally with its own neonicotinoid ban, and the United Kingdom has said it would support an EU-wide ban.

Curious to know more about neonicotinoids? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Tom, who believes bee populations are declining across Europe and that it’s linked to pesticide use. Is he right?

To get a response, we spoke to Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and an expert on bumblebees. What would he say?

For another perspective, we also put Tom’s comment to Alina Cretu, Executive Director of the Romanian Maize Growers Association (APPR). How would she respond?
Next up, we had a comment from Nina, who thinks the EU should do something to help protect Europe’s bees. What can it actually do?

To get a response, we approached Martin Dermine, Save the Bees Campaign Coordinator at Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe. What would he say?

Finally, we spoke to Fredrick Federley, a Member of the European Parliament. How would he respond to Nina’s comment? What should the EU do to help protect Europe’s bees?

How do we ensure the protection of bees and other pollinators? What should the EU do to help protect Europe’s bees? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Mark Robinson
Editorially independent content supported by: The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA). See our FAQ for more details.

21 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Stop debate. It is known what causes decline of bees. Get on with excluding certain poisons NOW.

  2. avatar

    Protect the bees ? Ban the poisons and the lobbyists pushing them in their cosey chats with EU officials.

  3. avatar
    Jakob Tilma

    No matter the cause of a decline in the population of bees in Europe, a focal point should be to intensify the formation of bee friendly habitats in connection to the farmland, and then we have to learn along the way, in what way these bee habitats can be made as bee friendly as possible. This would be a positive mode of action, and by using 0,5 or 1 percent of the fields for this purpose wont be devastating for agriculture.

  4. avatar

    Reduce pesticides, encourage people to grow high pollinated flowers in their gardens.

  5. avatar

    Getting rid of the wealthy investors in the insecticide companies

  6. avatar
    Aleksei Lotman

    Ban neonics, develop organic and HNV agriculture

  7. avatar
    Constantin Dobrescu

    Just a remark for Mrs. Alina Cretu. Yes, you are right, the number of bee colonies has increased in Romania, following a period of decline at the end of the communist regime, now we have about the total number of hives we had before. But this is not at all evidence that the use pesticides in agriculture is harmless to bees. Nowadays the overwintering bee losses are higher than ever. The increase in the number of bee colonies in Romania is the result of a constant effort of the beekeepers to replace in spring and summer the colonies lost during the winter. This is achieved at the expense of their production. With a global fall in honey prices in the past 2 years there is a real danger that beekeeping will become unsustainable. And, with all due respect, pesticide play a part in this!

    • avatar
      Alina Cretu

      Farmers really try to do their best in making agriculture not to become “unsustainble”. With all these efforts it is still our duty as farmers and beekeepers to understand what is the effect of our actions. If bee population across Europe and worldwide it is in decline we have to look for the reasons and to find answers. But these answers should be based on scientific results, information, studies and statistics. It could be partly due to pesticides, it could be generally due to pollution, radiations, climate change… What to do to get objective answers?… Not to forget that EU give direct suport to agriculture – which includes beekeepers. This has a reason: give support to EU farmers (that includes beekeepers) means that is strategic to help them being sustainable. And some time sustainable means to use plant medicine as we use bee medicine. Let’s look also to bee deseases that are not linked to pesticides and also to genetic evolution for plants. Maybe we need to communicate better about our issues, which I believe we started Mr. Dobrescu and that we should continue.

  8. avatar
    Constantin Dobrescu

    Dear Mrs. Cretu, I believe that the recent reconfirmation by EFSA of the risk posed by neonicotinoids to bees implicitly contradicts the claims of the Romanian farmers regarding the causes of decline in bee populations. Personally, I greatly appreciate your organization for the open approach towards a collaboration with beekeepers, including measures to mitigate the effects of pesticides on bees and environment. But the general framework of agricultural practices regulated at EU level must also be applied in Romania, as in any other member state.

  9. avatar

    How many commenters to this publication are really qualified to answer this question? I know I’m not. The best we can do is create the optimal conditions for unbiased panels of experts to examine the issue and provide credible recommendations.

  10. avatar
    Francisco Ferreira

    85% of the plants exists because of the bees. They polinate 1/3 of the food we eat and they provide plant food for the animals. If they die humans have 4 years to live on earth!
    Honey as many uses in medicine. And is sweet and is used in many cakes.
    We must stop deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats.
    Erasmus Group Creativity in Teaching and in Learning
    Dover 2018

  11. avatar

    Yes! Great decision. For thousands of years, these chemicals were never needed. And they have done more harm than good.

  12. avatar

    So what? You would rather keep pesticides which kill one of the main pollinators of all our food? What do you want, self-pollinated genetically modified plants so we can get rid of those pesky bees, that’s moronic!

  13. avatar

    It will be interesting to see how the growers twist this into a reason to increase their prices.

    • avatar

      Pests reduce yield and in worst cases, destroy the crop. There won’t be any twisting to price increases.

    • avatar

      I like how you think growers dictate their prices, which planet are you from?

  14. avatar
    Natalia Ciarra

    Please act now and protect bees before it’s too late. The problem is farmers are aware of this but they ignore the important facts. They don’t worry on how Earth will look in the next 30 years time instead they focus about getting rich and good effect of growing crops now. Please think about solution for your children and grandchildren, be smart.

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