Big Business Challenges Europe
If you are a beekeeper you will undoubtedly know about the recent temporary ban on Neonictinoid pesticides throughout Europe which comes into effect in December 2013. If you aren’t you have probably heard stories about it on the news, but in short there is building evidence that a group of pesticides called Neonicotinoids (or Neonics for short) are having a negative impact on our pollinators. It appears that proper testing wasn’t done before they went into mass use around 20 years ago and now we are starting to see the ill effects, some people are blaming the whole colony collapse phenomenon on them.
Earlier this year Europe voted on whether their use should be suspended until more testing has been done, despite the UK voting against taking action the motion was passed and the ban comes into play in December this year, and they will be banned for a 2 year period while further testing is done.
However as has been reported by Nature.com, and Greenpeace amongst others, both Bayer and Syntenga are now challenging this decision! They are effectively challenging the whole decision making process of Europe, Syntenga are said to have started legal proceedings to have the ruling overturned specifically for Thiamethoxam, whereas Bayer are said to be challenging all 3 Neonics which have had their use suspended.
This could be catastrophic if these pesticides are blamed for the death of bees and other pollinators, because the chemicals are said to remain in potentially dangerous levels in the soil for up to 20 years, so although we undoubtedly have levels of it in the ground in many areas already, the longer they are in use in even more areas, the more difficult it will become to do a full study on their effects, due to the lack of control colonies which would need to remain unexposed to the pesticides.
The whole debate has caused a split in the UK’s beekeepers, many are opposed to their use, however the rest are not, fearing that farmers will have no choice but to revert to older chemical sprays, and certain combinations of these are known to be poisonous to bees.
A Final Thought
My personal view, just in case anyone is interested, is why were these pesticides even put into use before they had been thoroughly tested? A new car isn’t sold to the public before they know it’s safe, or a new drug isn’t released before they know of any side effects, so why on earth would a chemical be allowed to enter our food chain before they know it’s safe. The nature of Neonicotinoids is that the seeds are coated so the whole plant contains the pesticides, if it’s getting into bees it’s getting into people!