The European Union has voted for a 2-year ban on the nerve-agent pesticides blamed for the dramatic decline in global bee populations. Three neonicotinoids will be suspended from flowering crops on which bees feed unless compelling scientific evidence to the contrary becomes available. Over 30 high-quality scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids and falling bee numbers, including a study by the European Food Safety Authority, which concluded in January that the pesticides did pose a risk to the health of bees.
Chemical companies and UK ministers have argued that food production could slump, but there is little evidence of this from countries like France and Italy which already have partial bans. Fast-declining populations of pollinators have been identified as a serious risk to global food production, and recent farming trends are towards using natural predators and crop rotation to control any pests.
The European commission will review new scientific evidence and data on the impact of the suspension within two years.