Rhein on Energy and Climate

Bees are in danger of global extermination, particularly in Europe and North America. Without bees Humanity will not be able to feed itself. Albert Einstein is on record to have said 100 years ago that Humanity would not survive more than four years if bees were to disappear, as they pollinate 70 per cent of the crops that supply 90 per cent of the world`s food.

The rising use of pesticides, in particular neonicotonoids since 2004, is considered one of the principal reasons for the worrying decline of bee colonies. That is what has led the “European Food Safety Authority” to recommend in a report published in January 2013 to ban the use of this class of pesticides on flowering crops like rapeseed, sunflower and fruit plantations that attract honeybees.

Following up on this report the “Commission has come to the conclusion a high risk for bees cannot be excluded except by further restrictions”. It has therefore proposed to put a two-year ban on neonicotinoiduse on flowering crops.

On March 14th its proposal did not obtain the qualified majority necessary for approval by the competent EU committee. In the absence of a decision the Commission has the power to enact the proposal if it thinks the risks of non-action are too great. It may also invite member states for another vote or modify its proposal.

A lot is at stake and it is urgent to act. The Commission wants the two -year prohibition to be in force as of July 1st.

Short-term business and farm interests are pitted against fundamental long-term ones of Humanity.

A decision in Brussels will be y watched in the rest of the world. In 2012 the US Environmental Agency had rejected a plea by honeybee- keepers for a withdrawal of one type of neonicotinoids from the market because of insufficient evidence of its damage for bees.

In view of the alarming increase of deaths among honeybees there is a need for thorough studies n the effects of various pesticides on bees. In conformity with the precautionary principle the EU should enact the proposed two-year moratorium for not using neonicotinoids on crops that attract honey bees. That will force all parties concerned to mobilise the necessary research to arrive at non-ambivalent conclusions.

The survival of bees is more important than that of a toxic chemical product for which substitutes will be found.

 

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