EU member-states ban pesticide over risk to bees, humans

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The European Union (EU) members have decided to add a fourth neonicotinoid substance to a list of banned pesticides believed to be harmful to bees, the European Commission and the bloc’s food safety watchdog announced.

A decline in bee populations in recent years had been linked to the use of pesticides in agriculture.

Bees play an important role in the pollination of crops. So their decrease in numbers had so far posed economic and food supply concerns.

In 2018, EU countries decided to ban the outdoor use of the three neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, which act by damaging the central nervous system of insects, including bees.

The European Commission’s food safety unit said that Thiacloprid would now be added to that list, following a decision on Tuesday by a panel of experts representing the EU’s 28 member states.

However, member states had endorsed the proposal to withdraw a neonicotinoid from the EU due to unacceptable risks to bees, water and humans.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), published a peer review of thiacloprid in January.

According to an EFSA spokeswoman, the report highlighted particular concern over Thiacloprid entering the ground water and found that there was not enough data to assess the risk to consumers exposed to residues.

Others that could be exposed are: birds, mammals, water organisms, bees and plants other than those the pesticide was intended for.

According to the commission, the current approval for the active pesticide ingredient, developed by the chemical giant Bayer, expires at the end of April.

Chemical companies and farming associations, however, had criticized the crackdown on neonicotinoid pesticides.