Monday, June 11, 2018 by Jayson Veley
In a major win for mother nature, the European Union backed a proposal last month to ban the use of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which studies have shown do a tremendous amount of harm to honey bees.
The ban, which has been strongly supported by environmentalists, applies to the use of three active substances: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are developed by Bayer CropScience, Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience, and Syngenta, respectively.
“All outdoor uses will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where exposure of bees is not expected,” explained the European Commission in a statement. Additionally, the campaign group “Friends of the Earth” described the EU’s decision as a “tremendous victory” for bees and the environment. “The European Commission must now focus on developing a strong pollinator initiative that boosts bee-friendly habitat and helps farmers cut pesticide use,” the group stated.
Others aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about the ban. Bayer called it “a sad day for farmers and a bad deal for Europe,” adding that it would not help bees and that farmers have no other way of controlling pests.
Regardless of differing opinions regarding whether or not these insecticides should be banned, one thing that most people should be able to agree on is the fact that honeybees should be protected at all costs. If bees are allowed to go extinct, whether it’s because of harmful insecticides or other environmental catastrophes, then we will all be living in a very different world than the one we are currently living in.
According to the USDA, 33 percent of every single bite of food we put into our mouths is derived from plants that have been pollinated by bees, which makes sense considering the fact that roughly 75 percent of fruits, nuts, and vegetables that are grown in the United States are also pollinated by bees. Some of the foods that are almost entirely dependent on bee pollination include almonds, avocados, apples, cherries, and several others. (Related: Do your part to save the bees with these ten easy-to-grow flowers.)
It’s also worth noting that in addition to providing us with foods that most of us purchase every time we go to the grocery store, honey bees are also extremely important for business. The USDA states that in the year 2010, honey bees provided for more than $19 billion dollars in added value to the agriculture industry. Based on this statistic alone, it’s easy to see how the agriculture business would look and operate extremely different than it does now if it weren’t for bees. Additionally, around $150 million worth of honey is produced in the United States each year, and commercial beekeeping businesses are usually family owned and operated businesses that are passed down from generation to generation, according to the National Honey Board. (Related: Read about the story of honeybees and their importance in sustaining life.)
Thankfully, the world appears to be stepping up and doing its part to protect these important creatures. Indeed, over the past few years, there have been numerous projects and initiatives designed specifically to save the bees. The United States, for example, has taken steps to phase out GMOs and bee-killing pesticides in all wildlife refuges, according to TakePart. The organization “Beyond Pesticides” is working to transition the world into a greener planet that is free of toxic pesticides. A documentary called “Vanishing Bees” was created in order to show people the shocking truth behind the declining bee population and paint a picture of what the world would look like without them. Hopefully, this push to save the bees and to raise awareness about the important role they play in our world will continue for years to come.
Discover more news on pollinators at Bees.news.