Tuesday, April 9, 2013

European agriculture at risk: time to ban bee-killing pesticides

Matthias Wüthrich in a blog on the Greenpeace website:  Most of the food served on our tables greatly depends on insects such as bees and their crucial pollinating role in agriculture, but the use of pesticides is increasingly placing the future of bees and our farming at risk. A scientific review of pollinators and agriculture in Europe released by Greenpeace today highlights the ecological and economic importance of healthy bee populations.

The study stresses the urgent need to ban bee-harming pesticides. Such a ban would be a crucial first step towards protecting bee colonies and safeguarding the process of pollination from insects – instrumental to agriculture and food production in Europe. Our report Bees in Decline shows how the global decline in bee populations can be attributed to diseases and parasites as well as climate change but, most importantly, industrial agricultural practices.

Scientific evidence highlights the deadly role of neonicotinoids, a highly toxic type of pesticide with detrimental effects to bees. Besides the acute poisoning that leads to immediate bee death, there are several other sub-lethal, low-dose effects of pesticides. These include physiological effects, disturbance to the foraging pattern, interfered feeding behaviour and neurotoxic impacts on learning processes.

Additionally, the ability of bees to resist diseases and parasites seems to be directly influenced by their exposure to neonicotinoids – with catastrophic consequences on their health and chances of survival. Since one-third of all European food is pollinated by insects, a collapse in bee populations would put agriculture at risk, with dire consequences for European food security.

The negative impacts of bee-killing pesticides far exceed any presumed benefits. Our bees and wild pollinators are too precious to risk losing them. EU member states simply cannot wait any longer and must immediately ban such pesticides...

A honey bee in Germany, shot by Devcore, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication


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