February 2013

I wrote to the EU yesterday reiterating my concerns about the diminishing health of honeybees due to the ongoing use of neonicotinoud insecticides. Here is their response. It is a small step but certainly not sufficient… We must continue to voice our concerns. The major industry players will certainly continue to make sure their position is heard loudly and clearly… The beekeepers, alone, do not have sufficient resources to stand against giant chemical companies. They need the people behind them. That’s us.

Statement addressing citizens’ concerns on bee health

We have received, over the past few days a significant amount of requests from concerned citizens on the steps that the Commission will take in view of the recent analysis carried out by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) on the effect on bees of three types of pesticides. This statement serves to answer the concerns raised.

In April 2012, the Commission requested an analysis from EFSA of 3 pesticides (neonicotinoids) following articles in “Science” suggesting these pesticides might have an adverse effect on bee behaviour and reproduction.
In January 2013, EFSA published its analysis concluding that there are several concerns.

On the 28th January, Agriculture Ministers from the Member States (AGRI Council) met in Brussels and European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg announced that following EFSA’s report on the effects of 3 neonicotinoids on bees, it was time for a “swift and decisive action” and that he was ready to table a “set of ambitious, but proportionate legislative measures”.

On the 31st January, a first discussion with Member States experts on the EFSA conclusions took place at the Standing Committee on Pesticides.

The following measures were proposed by the Commission for discussion with Member States:

  1. Amend the conditions of approval of the 3 pesticides (clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid) in order to restrict the use only to crops non attractive to bees and to winter cereals (as dust exposure during autumn is not considered a major issue).
  2. Prohibit the sale and use of “seeds treated” with plant protection products containing these active substances. This provision will not apply to treated seeds of plants non attractive to bees and to treated seeds of winter cereals.
  3. Both measures referred to in points 1) and 2) above have to be implemented at the latest by 1 July 2013. This will not affect the forthcoming sowing season for maize.
  4. Review both measures by the Commission after 2 years.
  5. Restrict the use to professional users (prohibition of sales for amateur uses). What will happen now? Next steps:
  • 7 February 2013: the Commission will meet the Advisory group of the Food Chain (which includes stakeholders such as agriculture associations and industry, as well as NGOs) to discuss the actions proposed by the Commission.
  • 25 February 2013: a committee of experts from all EU countries will vote on the proposals.
  • It is foreseen that the new rules will apply from 1 July 2013

  • I think this offers us something to reflect upon http://www.toledoblade.com
  • Many GMO crops are engineered to produce their own pesticide (such as Bt toxin), while others have been created to withstand large applications of herbicides like Roundup. Both have had devastating consequences for pollinating species like honeybees. Last week, 1,500 colonies of honeybees were destroyed in Campeche, Mexico from the fumigation of Monsanto’s GMO crops nearby:
    http://www.theyucatantimes.com
  • A more uplifting piece… http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21508035
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