Reaction to European Union neonicotinoid ban

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Countries in the European Union (EU) announced today (April 28) their support for a proposal to ban the outdoor use of neonicotinoids, widely used pesticides that have been linked to declines in pollinators - especially bees. Under the new regulations, farmers will no longer be allowed to use the pesticides in open fields. It is however, incumbent on ministers and officials in the European Union and the United Kingdom to think about the real world business impacts of these decisions, and work with us to provide the necessary support for farmers who need to find ways to combat pests, control costs and produce food efficiently.

Brussels restricted their use in 2013 as part of efforts to protect bees and commissioned a deeper report into their effects, gathering all available studies on the issue. "There is a real risk that these restrictions will do nothing measurable to improve bee health, while compromising the effectiveness of crop protection".

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, who runs an organic farm in west Norfolk, said: "The clear evidence of neonicotinoids' harm to pollinators, and to wildlife in general, has been mounting for some time". Bees and other insects prefer feeding on wildflowers, which neonicotinoids can turn into deadly toxic traps.

But environmental groups have called for a total ban and sparked a debate across the continent about the wider use of chemicals in farming.

Emi Murphy, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "This a major victory for science, common sense and our under-threat bees".

Policy adviser, Franziska Achterberg, said: "These three neonicotinoids are just the tip of the iceberg - there are many more pesticides out there, including other neonicotinoids that are just as risky for bees and food production".

Study after study has shown that pesticides (neonicotinoids in particular) hurt bee populations, as well as other insects, worms, and even birds. "Given the overwhelming body of scientific evidence and overwhelming public concern, EPA as well as leading US food retailers like Kroger should take immediate action and eliminate the use of these toxic pesticides".

Environmental health secretary Michael Gove has said that Britain will follow the new restrictions.

The United Nations warned a year ago that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators - particularly bees and butterflies -risk global extinction.

"The European Commission must now focus on developing a strong pollinator initiative that boosts bee-friendly habitat and helps farmers cut pesticide-use", it said.

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