Greenpeace Taiwan yesterday urged the government to ban the use of certain pesticides after it released a report that showed more than two-thirds of pollen samples collected from beehives in 12 European countries were contaminated by more than one kind of pesticide, posing a threat to bee survival.
On Monday, National Taiwan University researchers said they discovered that even low levels of a commonly used pesticide — imidacloprid — can harm bees, causing them to lose their way back to their hives, which might be one of the main reasons the bee population has declined in recent years.
On Tuesday, the Council of Agriculture said that the European Food Safety Authority only enforced a temporary precautionary measure on the use of imidacloprid — banning the pesticide from use on seeds, leaves and soil — but further review is needed to determine whether the policy is adequate.
The council also said that a recent EU study showed the reason for the large decline in the European bee population is climate change.
Greenpeace Taiwan said yesterday that the organization collected pollen from beehives that showed traces of 53 pesticides in 100 samples destined to be food for bee larvae, and more than two-thirds of the samples contained more than one pesticide, including one with 17.
The organization said the report also detected DDE, a derivative of DDT, a pesticide banned decades ago, and frequent detection of the insect nerve-poison thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid, in many samples from Germany.
“This study on contaminated pollen reveals the unbearable burden of bees and other vital pollinators,” Greenpeace Ecological Farming campaigner Matthias Wuthrich said. “Bees are exposed to a cocktail of toxic pesticides.”
Greenpeace Taiwan’s agriculture project manager Tsai Szu-ting (蔡絲婷) said the council should set a schedule for banning certain pesticides that kill bees, which would be a more effective measure to support the bee population, rather than denying the relationship between the use of pesticides and the declining bee population.