EU bans bee-harming pesticides

Three pesticides may no longer be used on open-air crops across Europe. A majority of EU member states voted in favour of banning neonicotinoids, one of the main factors held to be responsible for mass bee deaths. Are bees now adequately protected?

Open/close all quotes
Le Monde (FR) /

Damage already irreversible

Tragically the decision to ban the three neonicotinoids comes too late, Le Monde observes:

“For environmentalists the decision is good news. But it also highlights the catastrophic sluggishness of legislative processes. Because almost 20 years had to pass before the European authorities heeded the warnings of beekeepers and scientists conducting research in this area. ... The European decision to ban these three 'neonics' comes at a time when the harm they have caused is already immense and in part no doubt irreversible. Like a doctor who waits until he can diagnose lung cancer before advising his patient to stop smoking. Or to change to a different brand of cigarettes.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Organic farming is the only way to protect bees

Whether the ban on neonicotinoids will help the bees depends above all on the alternatives already in use, warns Der Standard:

“Researchers at the University of Würzburg have tested a pesticide that is being talked of as an alternative to the soon-to-be-banned agrochemicals. But this substance called Sivanto also makes life difficult for the bees. It is approved for use in the US and also in several EU member states. ... Although there are biological alternatives, it is by no means certain that they can quickly replace the highly efficient chemicals used in conventional farming. If we want fewer chemicals the only long-term solution is to base farming on more ecological methods. That is possible - but only if consumers want this and are willing to pay more for food products.”