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Beekeepers call for banning of a large number of pesticides

European Commission urged to act decisively to halt decline of bee population

Bee campaigners outside the Department of Agriculture. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy

Campaigners have handed in a letter to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, calling on him to support the banning of more pesticides which harm the bee population.

The European Commission has already banned three pesticides because of their impact on the declining bee population, but campaigners want the commission to go further.

They have drawn up a list of other pesticides which they have urged the commission to ban.

Petitions were also handed in to agriculture ministries in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Latvia and Italy in advance of World Bee Day, which is on May 20th.

It also coincides with a meeting of the European Commission’s Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed. It will vote on a proposal by the European Food Safety Authority’s bee guidance which was produced in 2013 and recommended the banning of a wide range of pesticides because of their impact on the bee population.

Loss of habitats

A decline in the population of bees and other pollinators has been noted worldwide. The use of pesticides has been blamed for the decline, along with the loss of habitats such as flower meadows.

Of 98 Irish wild bee species, one-third are threatened with extinction and numbers are declining at an alarming rate.

The phenomenon has been observed across the world and could have dire consequences for the pollination of flowers and crops, and for the food chain.

Fungicides and pesticides together make it even more damaging for bees

Beekeeper Mary Montaut said campaigners were advocating for the banning of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, and also the well-known pesticide Roundup. “Roundup is systemic and gets into the whole plant and is therefore on the nectar and the pollen,” she explained.

She cited a recent German report which found 57 pesticides in one bee. “What we don’t know is what is the effect of that combination? We have only recently discovered that fungicides and pesticides together make it even more damaging for bees.

“They are producing fantastically clever pesticide combinations. We have no idea what is going to stay in the ground.”