Bees and other pollinators are not only a vital part of nature, they also play a crucial role in food production. Worldwide, some 75% of food crops depend to some degree on pollinators like honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees, mayflies, butterflies and moths.
Industrial agriculture threatens these precious animals by depriving them of valuable food sources and exposing them to toxic chemicals. As a result, bees and other pollinators are under serious threat. This puts our food supply at risk.
The EU must ban all bee-harming pesticides
In 2017, the European Union (EU) will decide whether to impose a full ban on three pesticides that have been recognised as harmful to bees: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam produced by companies such as Bayer and Syngenta. All three belong to the neonicotinoid family of insecticides. This would extend the restrictions that the EU placed on the use of these chemicals in 2013.
We now have a unique opportunity. In March, the European Commission proposed an almost complete ban on these three pesticides. There is an exception for use on crops grown in greenhouses that are never taken out and planted in the open field, even though there is no proof that this is safe for bees. Still, the proposal is a major step in the right direction.
Our governments must vote for the ban of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, and close the remaining loophole. They must also ensure that all other chemical pesticides are properly tested for their impact on bees, and that all bee-harming pesticides are banned.
The industry argues that farmers cannot do without these pesticides. However, science and experience in ecological farming practices show that farmers don’t need chemical pesticides. They can make a good living without them and at the same time contribute to biodiversity and protect pollinators.