Wed, May 02, 2018 - Page 14 News List

EU to ban bee-killing pesticides

A bee gathers pollen from a flower on a cherry tree in a garden outside Moscow on May 22 last year.

Photo: AFP

The EU on Friday backed an almost total ban on insecticides blamed for killing off bee populations, in a move hailed by environmentalists as a “beacon of hope”.

Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world’s major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from “colony collapse disorder,” a mysterious scourge blamed partly on pesticides.

EU countries voted for a ban on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides in fields, the European Commission said, meaning that they can only now be used in covered greenhouses where they cannot get into the environment.

The EU brought in a partial ban in 2013 but decided on more drastic action after a major report by European food safety agency said in February that the chemicals posed a risk to honey bees and wild bees.

Opposition from chemical giants

But two chemical giants whose products are affected — Switzerland’s Syngenta and Bayer of Germany — opposed the ban.

Bayer said in a statement that it “will not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators. The decision will further reduce European farmers’ ability to tackle important pests, for many of which there are no alternative treatments available.”

Why ban neonicotinoids?

Unlike contact pesticides — which remain on the surface of foliage — neonicotinoids are absorbed by the plant from the seed phase and transported to leaves, flowers, roots and stems.

They have been widely used over the last 20 years, and were designed to control sap-feeding insects such as aphids and root-feeding grubs.

Past studies have found neonicotinoids can cause bees to become disorientated such that they cannot find their way back to the hive, and lower their resistance to disease.


1. insecticide n.

農藥、殺蟲劑 (nong2 yao4, sha1 chong2 ji4)

2. colony collapse disorder phr.

蜂群崩壞症候群 (feng1 qun2 beng1 huai4 zheng4 hou4 qun2)

3. pollinator n.

授粉者 (shou4 fen2 zhe3)

4. pest n.

害蟲 (hai4 chong2)

5. disorientated adj.

迷失方向的 (mi2 shi1 fang1 xiang4 de5)

6. hive n.

蜂巢 (feng1 chao2)

Fears have been growing globally in recent years over the health of bees.

Pesticides have been blamed as a cause of colony collapse disorder along with mites, pesticides, virus and fungus, or some combination of these factors.

The United Nations warned last year that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators — particularly bees and butterflies — risk global extinction.

















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