France has become the first country in all of Europe to take this step. This move was taken to help protect the delining population of bees.
Bees are one of the most essential insects in the eco-system. They do not just help in increasing the economy of various European countries or by providing us with honey but a lot of plants depend on these insects for the process of pollination. France recently became the first ever European country to ban all five pesticides that believe kill bees. It is a major step that the country has taken towards protecting the rapidly decreasing bee population. According to researchers, there are five major pesticides that affect the lives of these insects. The move made by the government to ban all the five so-called neonicotinoids has been hailed by beekeepers and environmentalists reports The Telegraph. Like every ban, this one too has a big number of supporters but also its fair share of people who are against it. Cereal and sugar beet farmers have been against this move as they are worried that they are now left defenseless in protecting their crops against not just bees but other harmful insects as well.
The five pesticides that were narrowed down by researchers to be the main cause behind the declining bee population are used to prevent other harmful insects from feeding on the crops as well. Farmers across the nation are worried about how they are going to deal with this situation in the future. By enforcing this new law, France has taken steps ahead of the European Union. The EU voted and agreed on banning pesticides that harm bees but France has been the very first country to do so. The move was supported by Britain and 15 other countries.
The outdoor use of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam - in crop fields has been banned from December 19, 2018. Along with these three, thiacloprid and acetamiprid have been banned too. Their usage has been banned not only outdoors but in greenhouses as well. The ban of these pesticides was initially opposed when brought up in the European Union. It went on to gain the support of many countries later. Now, Britain is fully supporting the ban due to evidence that shows these pesticides being responsible for the decline in bee colonies.
Thank you France!...may others follow your lead. https://t.co/Rx5DECNVtT— Shelley Darling (@ShellDarling888) December 31, 2018
According to researchers, these pesticides result in something known as the "colony collapse disorder". This is the term used to explain the mysterious phenomenon that has seen the bee populations rapidly drop by up to 90 percent in some cases. Researchers also suggest that there are other potential causes like fungi, mites, and viruses that also play a role in the population drop. As reported by The Telegraph, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania voted against the ban. Eight countries including Poland, Bulgaria, and Belgium abstained.
The banned pesticides were introduced in the mid-1990s. These synthetic neonicotinoids share the chemical structure of nicotine. When the bees are exposed to them, these chemicals attack the nervous system of the insects. They are the most widely used pesticides in Europe and are used to treat flowering crops, such as fruit trees, beets, and vineyards. They were initially introduced to replace the older pesticides that were considered to be a lot more harmful as compared to these.
Recent scientific studies have shown that these neonicotinoids cause a lot of damage to bees. Exposure to these chemicals results in the bees' sperm count reducing. It even scrambles their memory and their homing skills. Recent research also suggests that the insects can develop an addiction to the insecticides just like how smokers develop an addiction for nicotine. Many farmers have been left outraged by the move and suggest that there has not been enough evidence to show that neonicotinoids are responsible for the declining bee population.
But according to the European Food Safety Authority reports, these neonicotinoids are harmful to honeybees, bumblebees, and wild solitary bees and harmed their ability to forage and form colonies. After the ban was introduced, farmers faced a dramatic "technical dead-end" according to France's farming union, FNSEA. The union has requested the government for exceptions of usage in sectors "where there are no alternatives or insufficient ones”. They say that the ban "will exacerbate unfair competition with European and non-European producers"
A report by France's ANSES public health agency said that there were "sufficiently effective, and operational" alternatives to the majority of neonicotinoids used in France. There are many others who support the ban and want it to go further. "There are pesticides all over the place," Fabien Van Hoecke, a beekeeper in Saint-Aloué in Brittany told The Telegraph. He was apparently losing 86 percent of his bees over the winter. He also suggested that the ban was not enough to save them as soon as these harmful chemicals are withdrawn they will be replaced by others.Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.