The EU member states met on Friday to vote on the EU Commission’s proposal to ban the use of three neonicotinoid (sometimes shortened to neonics) insecticides, which are a harmful to many species of bees, butterflies and aquatic life.
Following a partial ban on their use on flowering crops in 2013, the new ban means that these neonicotinoids cannot be used outside, although they can still be used in greenhouses and pet flea treatments.
“The Commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority,” says Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner for health and food safety.
“Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”
Michael Gove, environment secretary for the UK government, reversed the UK’s position on the neonicotinoids ban in November 2017.
Previously, the UK had resisted the ban but Gove said that “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonictinoids post to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators … is greater than previously understood.”
The three neonictinoids included in the ban are: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Other neonics, such as thiacloprid and sulfoxafor, are not included in the ban.
Despite the ban, campaigners are worried about how the neonictinoids could still leach in water sources and affect aquatic species.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) does not believe that the evidence available justifies the ban.
“This decision doesn’t change the fact that farmers will continue to face challenges to maintain sustainable and productive cropping systems and the pest problems that neonicotinoids helped farmers tackle have not gone away,” says Guy Smith, deputy president of the NFU.
“There is a real risk that these restrictions will do nothing measurable to improve bee health, while compromising the effectiveness of crop protection.”