France Becomes First Country in Europe to Ban All Pesticides Linked to Bee Deaths

The bee population is on the brink of extinction and we, the humans, have contributed to such rapid decline. The overuse of pesticides has brought these disastrous effects to the bees but as well as to the overall environment in the whole world.

We need the bees as they are the natural pollinators of 2/3 of our crops and if they extinct then the balance of food and as well as of the animal world will be destroyed. France is one of the countries that took rigorous measures against pesticides so that to protect the environment and its inhabitants like the bees.

This European country plans to ban the five pesticide varieties that are very harmful for the bees. According to the findings of scientists these neonicotinoids are accountable for the destruction of this population. The European researchers showed that these pesticides lead to the mysterious “colony collapse disaster” in this continent which convinced European countries to accept the ban on the use of pesticides. Britain also complied with this ruling although it had opposed it.

The bee-keepers and environmentalists highly welcome this initiative, but the sugar beet and cereal farmers believe that these measurements will make the crops more prone to pests and insects.

The European union has already banned three neonicotinoids, but France wants to expand the ban to two more which will be applied not only in indoor fields but as well as within greenhouses.

How synthetic neonicotinoids affect the bees?

They act as drugs and the bees become addicted to them like humans do to nicotine and other similar substances. The synthetic neonicotinoids resemble in structure to nicotine, and thus they attack their central nervous systems. In addition to this, they mess with the sperm count of the male bees lowering their memory and ability to return home.

Neonicotinoids were a replacement to the more harmful pesticides used in the past and because of that nowadays they are the most commonly used pesticides. This ban was not accepted by all French farmers, some of them opposed to it saying that there is not enough substantial evidence to connect the pesticides with the decline in the bee population.

Furthermore, there are people that believe that the full remedy for the bee population would be ban of the use of all pesticides. Fabien Van Hoecke, a beekeeper in Saint-Aloué in Brittany, is one of them, who believes that a complete ban of pesticides use will help the bee population. He is a bee-keeper who lost 86% of his bees this winter. He says: “There are pesticides all over the place, while the ban was a good thing, it won’t save us.”

He maintains that the ban will help the bee population at some point, but after the withdrawal of the current pesticides, the new ones will come that will replace the others.

According to FNSEA, the largest farming union in France, this ban could cause unfair competition between European producers. Therefore, they suggest exemption of the ban in areas where there’s no suitable alternative. As a response to this matter, ANSES, the French public health agency, states that there are several adequate and efficient alternatives that are already used in France. 

Nonetheless of the criticisms, the introduction of this ban in France is more than welcomed and at the same time praised.

The Phys.org reports:

The ban pitted French agriculture minister StephaneTravert, who lobbied for an easing, against environment minister Nicolas Hulot who refused to back down. Hulot resigned, saying he felt “all alone” in the government on environmental issues.

Earlier this month, Canada announced plans to phase out clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The French ban allows for case-by-case exemptions on the use of acetamiprid until July 1, 2020.”

In addition to this, South EU Summit states:

The reduction of pesticide use is a goal that has long been in the works for France. In fact, the country had originally set a deadline for a 50 percent reduction in pesticides to be achieved by this year. However, between 2014 and 2016, pesticide use increased by 12 percent, resulting in that deadline’s extension to 2025. The decision to eliminate the use of neonicotinoid pesticides writ large demonstrates France’s commitment to meeting this target.”

Sources:

sciencetimes.com

telegraph.co.uk

phys.org