Europe moves to save the bees – will US follow?

  • Published on April 30th, 2013

Europe bans bee-killing pesitcides

It’s been pretty definitively proven that particular pesticides are decimating the world’s bees – threatening farmers and our food supply as well as wildflowers and wildlife.

Definitively enough that the European Union has just moved to ban them. So the question remains – when will the US act?

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a new class of bug killers. They did a great job of protecting crops – too good, in fact. There was collateral damage, destroying pests and helpful bugs alike, including bees, which pollinate a huge proportion of the global food supply.

The bad news:

  • Pesticide companies Paterson and Syngenta lobbied heavily to keep business as usual. They claim (of course) that there isn’t enough proof that their products harm the bees.
  • The move was supported by a majority of European governments, but narrowly.  
  • The UK’s Conservative government had originally abstained, but switched their vote to NO (against the advice of their own environmental audit committee).
  • Which means we only get a two-year moratorium, which means the European Commission must come up with a final ruling.
  • … And it won’t kick in until December.

Reaction was swift and positive (via honeycolony and the Guardian):

  • Friends of the Earth “This decision is a significant victory for common sense and our beleaguered bee populations. Restricting the use of these pesticides could be an historic milestone on the road to recovery for these crucial pollinators.”
  • Greenpeace’s chief scientist, Doug Parr, said: “By not supporting the ban, environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has exposed the UK government as being in the pocket of big chemical companies and the industrial farming lobby.

What can you do?

Add your voice to the fight! The Pesticide Action Network has a page set up where you can send a letter to the EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Jim Jones. Go here to tell him: “Take action and protect declining bee populations from harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.