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The EU is banning outdoor use of pesticides that harm bees

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The move today goes beyond restrictions put in place in 2013

Honey bee

The European Union is banning outdoor use of pesticides that harm bees, with the new restrictions going beyond those put in place in 2013. Member States approved the latest move in a vote on Friday.

Today’s measures place a total ban on three substances (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) known as neonicotinoids, which scientific studies have shown harm bees when used outdoors. In a statement, the European Commission stated that those substances will only be allowed to be used in permanent greenhouses where contact with bees is not expected.

The EU has adopted stringent policies surrounding harmful pesticides; in 2013 it restricted the use of neonicotinoids to certain crops. Bee populations are currently falling worldwide, a source of concern, given that as The New York Times reports, plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop production volume. The EU has indicated that the protection of bees is a priority given their role in food production and the environment.

Environmental groups like Greenpeace have welcomed today’s decision, but said more needs to be done. Bayer Crop Science, the company that developed imidacloprid, said it was “sad day for farmers” and would not help bees or other pollinators. Farmers would struggle to find alternative treatments to fight off other pests, the company said.

The European Commission says the regulation will be adopted in the coming weeks and become applicable by the end of this year.