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EU votes for two year ban on pesticides to protect bees

Bees

European politicians have voted for a two year ban on pesticides which some people think are harming bees.

The chemicals called Neonicotinoids are used to keep bugs away from plants and are used in many European countries.

Although some people say there isn't enough evidence to prove the chemicals are harmful to the insects there is great concern about the collapse of bee populations.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban but eight including Britain did not want one. As there was no majority for a full ban the European Commission decided the pesticides should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees for two years from December.

Reaction

For

Environmental campaigner Iain Keith welcomed the two year ban but said more needs to be done he said:

"Today's pesticide ban throws Europe's bees a vital lifeline, following a massive campaign backed by 2.6 million people."

"Europe is taking science seriously and must now put the full ban in place, to give bees the breathing space they need."

Against

Farmer Edward Houghton says that science has not proved that the chemicals are harmful to bees and that the ban could hurt the them in a different way.

For example, if farmers aren't allowed to use the pesticide on crops like oil seed rape farmers won't plant it which will mean less pollen for the bees to feed on.

What exactly are Neonicotinoids?

  • Neonicotinoid pesticides are new nicotine-like chemicals and act on the nervous systems of insects, with a lower threat to mammals and the environment than many older sprays.
  • Nicotine is not just poisonous to humans in the form of cigarettes, but the chemical is also extremely toxic to insects.
  • Pesticides made in this way dissolve in water, which means they can be applied to the soil and taken up by the whole plant - they are called "systemic", meaning they turn the plant itself into a poison factory, with toxins coming from roots, leaves, stems and pollen.
  • Neonicotinoids are often applied as seed treatments, which means coating the seeds before planting.