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.