He might be allergic to bee stings, but says European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker: “I am the bees' man”. And he proved it on Friday by presiding over an EU ruling to ban three neonicotoids, active substances in pesticides.
The ban applies to imidacloprid (developed by Bayer), clothianidin (developed by Bayer and Takeda Chemical Industries) and thiamethoxam (made by Syngenta). Research by the European Food Safety Authority concluded that these substances “represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees.”
In a statement, the European Commission said, “All outdoor uses will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where exposure of bees is not expected”.
Bayer told Reuter's the ban is “a bad deal for the European agricultural sector and the environment, and one that will not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators.” They added that many farmers would revert to using larger quantities of older less effective pesticides to control pests.
While sugar beet and oilseed rape farmers will be in a tough spot following the decision, there was widespread support from environmental agencies. Friends of the Earth Europe welcomed the ban as a “tremendous victory for our bees and the wider environment” and called on the Commission to “focus on developing a strong pollinator initiative that boosts bee-friendly habitat and helps farmers cut pesticide-use.”
The regulation will now be adopted by the Commission in the coming weeks and enter into force by the end of the year.