"We can't continue to jeopardize pollinator populations." As Michael Gove announced the ban on bee-killing pesticides in 2018, he said this.

Bee
(Photo : Slon_dot_pics)

Pesticides, especially a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids, are blamed by scientists as one of the key causes of bee extinction (or neonics).

When neonics are used to prepare crops, the contaminants end up in the pollen and nectar of the plants, which is bad news for bees and other pollinators.

So, after the government outlawed bee-killing pesticides in 2018, what has changed? It isn't the science, to be sure. Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, continue to be harmful to bees. These pesticides have been shown in studies to impair bee navigational ability and breeding success, and they are ravaging other insects as well.

EU Upholding the Ban

The EU's top court upheld the EU's partial ban on three insecticides linked to bee damage, banning their use on some crops.

Appeal to Lift the Ban

Bee
(Photo : Pixabay)

Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Bayer, and Syngenta are among the major agrichemical firms battling bans. Syngenta has also requested federal authorities for approval to use even more of these pesticides than is legally permitted - up to 400 times more than is currently permitted.

Bayer's appeal to reverse a lower EU court's decision to uphold the injunction was rejected by the European Court of Justice on Thursday.

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Ban on Major Insecticide Producers

The decision applies to three active ingredients: Bayer CropScience's imidacloprid, Takeda Chemical Industries, and Bayer CropScience's clothianidin, and Syngenta's thiamethoxam.

A Bayer spokesperson expressed disappointment with the decision but insisted that the drugs were safe and that they were already being used in other regions with adequate risk reduction mechanisms in place.

"The ruling seems to give the (European) Commission almost carte blanche to review current permits based on the tiniest piece of evidence, which may not even have to be new scientific data," the spokesperson added.

Restrictions

Western Honey Bee
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

In 2013, the European Commission imposed restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids, prohibiting them from being used on rice, rapeseed, and other spring cereals. Other crops, such as sugar beet, may also benefit from them.

Because of the destruction of bee colonies owing to pesticide misuse, the commission had inspected the permissions.

Bayer said that modern scientific information was insufficient to explain the restrictions. The EU's top court denied the appeal on Thursday, ordering Bayer to pay its own expenses as well as those of other parties.

Greenpeace legal analyst Andrea Carta said, "The court of justice has reaffirmed that defending biodiversity and people's welfare takes priority over the limited commercial interests of dominant multinationals."

Farmers would return to older pesticides and expand spraying if the insecticides were banned, according to Bayer and ChemChina-owned Syngenta.

Emergency Authorizations

Despite the ban, emergency authorizations for the substances' use in the EU were issued between 2013 and 2019. Last year, EU auditors stated that this pesticide use, though lawful, was believed to be the cause of honeybee losses.

To protect bees, the European Commission has suggested goals of halving the use of chemical pesticides in the EU by 2030 and reducing fertilizer use by 20%.

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