Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has said it has put forward proposals for extra protections for bees after initially accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of overestimating the harm caused to the vital pollinators by a widely used pesticide.
A preliminary risk assessment released by the EPA last week found that that imidacloprid, one of the world’s most common pesticides, can cause honeybee populations to fall in some circumstances.
The agency determined that imidacloprid in nectar at levels of 25 parts per billion or above were harmful to colonies, which have suffered an alarming decline in abundance over the past year.
Bayer, a dominant player in the neonicotinoid pesticide market, initially said the report “appears to overestimate the potential for harmful exposures in certain crops, such as citrus and cotton, while ignoring the important benefits these products provide and management practices to protect bees”.
But the company has now clarified its stance, telling the Guardian that it believes the assessment is “quite good and scientifically sound”. A spokesman said Bayer will look to work with the EPA to reduce risks to bees.
Greenpeace report that Aldi Süd is the first big retailer in Europe to ban eight bee-harming pesticides from domestic fruits and vegetables produced for their markets.
The German company made it a requirement on 1st January 2016 for its suppliers to phase out the pesticides most harmful to bees, including some of the group of neonicotinoids, it said in a letter to Greenpeace Germany. The environmental organisation urges supermarkets to phase out hazardous pesticides in fruit and vegetable production and to support farmers to switch to ecological practices.
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The Guardian newspaper reports that “risk evaluation could pave the way for a rolling back of the hard won EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides
The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) has begun a review that could pave the way for rolling back a pioneering EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides, that are thought to have ravaged European bee populations.”
Forty-two MPs spoke at a Parliamentary debate – confirming the huge public concern about neonicotinoid pesticides and bees. Some MPs stated that the have received as much, or more, correspondence on this issue than on the question of bombing Syria. The debate was secured via a Parliamentary petition with 90,000 signatures asking the Government to “Please ban the use of neonics on crops”. Many MPs highlighted new evidence showing that neonics kill bees, suppress populations of solitary and bumblebees, are linked to butterfly declines and are turning up in highly toxic levels in wild flowers, streams, ditches and ponds.
Overall the debate reflected the deep public concern about this issue, the mood was clear – bees should be safe from pesticide harm, and it was another reminder that serious action is needed to reverse pollinator declines.