Let's Follow France's Lead & Ban All Five Pesticides Linked to Bee Deaths
France has now set the benchmark in the global effort to save the bees and prevent “ecological Armageddon.”
The country banned all 5 of the neonicotinoid pesticides that researchers are blaming for collapsing bee populations.
The move follows the European Union’s ban of the three worst offenders — clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — in crop fields starting last month.
France has banned these three along with thiacloprid and acetamiprid, not only outdoors but in greenhouses too.
Studies have shown that neonicotinoids cut bees’ sperm count and scramble their memory and homing skills. The latest research suggests bees can develop a dangerous addiction to the insecticides, much like smokers for nicotine.
The ban is celebrated by beekeepers and environmentalists, but cereal and sugar beet farmers warn it could leave them defenseless in protecting their crops against harmful insects, The Telegraph reports.
What are Neonicotinoids?
Introduced in the mid-1990s, synthetic neonicotinoids share the chemical structure of nicotine and attack the central nervous system of insects.
The United Nations warned last year that 40 percent of pollinators – particularly bees and butterflies – risk global extinction.
In Europe, Asia and South America, the annual bee die-off lags behind the U.S. decline, but the trend is clear and the response has been more appropriate. In Europe, Rabobank reported that annual European die-offs have reached 30-35 percent and that the colonies-per-hectare count is down 25 percent.
A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific report determined that three widely used pesticides — nicotine-based clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam — pose “high acute risks” for bees. The nicotinoid pesticides—used in soils, on foliage, and embedded in seeds—persist at the core of the toxic pesticide cocktail found in bee hives.
What are the Main Pesticides that Kill Bees?
A Greenpeace scientific report identifies seven priority bee-killer pesticides—including the three nicotine culprits—plus clorpyriphos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, and fipronil. The three neonicotinoids act on insect nervous systems. They accumulate in individual bees and within entire colonies, including the honey that bees feed to infant larvae. Bees that do not die outright, experience sub-lethal systemic effects, development defects, weakness, and loss of orientation. The die-off leaves fewer bees and weaker bees, who must work harder to produce honey in depleted wild habitats. These conditions create the nightmare formula for bee colony collapse.
Bayer makes and markets imidacloprid and clothianidin; Syngenta produces thiamethoxam. In 2009, the world market for these three toxins reached more than $2 billion. Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, and DuPont control nearly 100% of the world market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.
In 2012, a German court criminally charged Syngenta with perjury for concealing its own report showing that its genetically modified corn had killed livestock. In the U.S., the company paid out $105 million to settle a class-action lawsuit for contaminating the drinking water for over 50 million citizens with its “gender-bending” herbicide Atrazine. Now, these corporate polluters are waging multi-million-euro campaigns to deny responsibility for bee colony collapse.
In May, the European Commission responded, adopting a two-year ban on the three necotinoid pesticides, and later added the non-neonicotinoid fibronil. Scientists will use the two years to assess the recovery rate of the bees and a longer-term ban on these and other pesticides.
How Does the U.S Measure up to Europe?
Meanwhile, the U.S. dithers and supports the corporations that produce and market the deadly pesticides. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, in spite of a U.S. Department of Agriculture report warning about the dangers of the bee colony collapse.
Also in 2014, President Obama signed the now infamous “Monsanto Protection Act” — written by Monsanto lobbyists — which gives biotech companies immunity in federal U.S. courts from damages to people and the environment caused by their commercial compounds.