The EU bans neonicotinoids to save bees

Using pesticides is dangerous for both honeybees and wild bees. Farmers are using seeds treated with pesticides, so they grow contaminated crops. Spontaneous flowers growing on the edges of these crops get contaminated too. Insects pollinating these flowers pick up the pesticides. This is why in recent years bees have been dying more and more.

In 2018 EU proposed a series of measures in order to help saving the bees. It had already happened once in the summer of 2013. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) carried out a research that led to EU limiting the use of pesticide Fipronil, which is bad for bees.

This time the ban is on a category of pesticides called neonicotinoids. To be more specific, the pesticides are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The ban is exclusively on outdoor use, while they can still be used inside greenhouses. Several studies, including another research carried out by EFSA, demonstrate how these pesticides can cause bees’ populations to shrink worldwide.

Exposure to neonicotinoids

Chronic impairment of bumblebee natural foraging behaviour induced by sublethal pesticide exposure is a study carried out by Richard J. Gill and Nigel E. Raine published in 2014 on the journal Functional Economy. The study describes the effects of exposure to neonicotinoids.

Scientists monitored a number of colonies over the course of one month. Some of the colonies didn’t come in contact with pesticides, while others were constantly in their proximity. Results show a difference between the foraging skills of bees in contact with pesticides and those who were not. As the experiment went on, colonies exposed to pesticides devoted an increasing number of bees to this task. The reason for this is that the single bees gradually lost their capacity to carry big amounts of pollen and went foraging less and less, which in turn caused a shortage of food that required more bee to go foraging.

Ispra’s report 

The Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Ispra) conducted a report on a national scale inquiring on the state of waters in terms of the pesticides in it. The report was carried out in 2018 basing on the data gathered in 2015 and 2016. Scientists found a series of substances that can impact the environment negatively, and neonicotinoids were among them. The report also points out how neonicotinoids are responsible for many losses in biodiversity. Five neonicotinoids entered the EU Watch List in 2015 (Imidacloprid, Thiacloprid, Thiamethoxam, Clothianidin, Acetamiprid). It is a list of all those substances needing to be monitored as they may pose a significant threat to both the water environment and the surrounding ecosystem.

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