Majority of EU countries support partial ban of bee-killing pesticides

Posted by Fran G — 29 April 2013 at 2:38pm - Comments
Bumblebee on a flower
All rights reserved. Credit: Steve Erwood / Greenpeace

A clear majority of EU countries have supported the European Commission proposal to temporarily ban three pesticides that are scientifically shown to be harmful to bees: imidacloprid and clothianidin, produced by chemical company Bayer, and thiamethoxam, produced by Syngenta. 

Greenpeace EU policy director Marco Contiero said: “Today’s vote makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban. Those countries opposing a ban have failed. Now, the Commission must draw the only conclusion possible and immediately halt the use of these pesticides as a first step to protect European food production and ecosystems. Any further delay would mean giving in to the lobbying muscle of Bayer and Syngenta.”

The three pesticides are all neonicotinoids, pesticides that are used to coat seeds before germination, added to soil or sprayed on plants.

In scientific reports published earlier this year, which triggered the Commission proposal, the European Food Safety Authority said the three neonicotinoids posed “high acute risks” to honeybees in certain crop uses. Extensive peer-reviewed scientific research has linked even low doses of neonicotinoids with neurological and other physiological damage on bees, as well as with disrupted foraging patterns and damage to immune systems. The European Environment Agency also recently issued a report warning against the consequences of inaction on these pesticides.

Ignoring scientific evidence on the toxicity of such pesticides, companies like Syngenta and Bayer have been running an intensive lobbying and public relations campaign in an attempt to delay a ban. Other pesticides produced by these and other companies also pose a severe threat to bees and other pollinators. A recent Greenpeace report, Bees in Decline, identified seven bee-killing pesticides produced by Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and other companies, four of which are not neonicotinoids. Greenpeace is campaigning to remove these pesticides from the market as a crucial first step to start a move away from industrial farming in Europe.

Partial bans of neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia, with no significant negative impacts on agricultural production.

Greenpeace European bees campaign coordinator Matthias Wüthrich said: "Bee decline is one of the most obvious and visible effects of a failed industrial farming model, which contaminates our environment and destroys farmers' smartest natural ally - pollinators. European policymakers should shift funding away from chemical-intensive agriculture and promote ecological farming."

Be interesting to know which countries voted for the ban, which were against, and which abstained.


Voted against ban: the UK,
Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Austria and Portugal.

Abstained: Ireland, Lithuania, Finland and Greece.

Voted for ban: Belgium, Bulgaria,
Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg,
Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden.


the UK moved from abstaining to opposing, the most important change
from the previous vote was probably Germany moving from abstaining to

Dear James Sadri

In response to a circular email about the successful campaign to save bee populations

I am a keen supporter of Greenpeace campaigns and really really value what you do.

As a Quaker, I would be so glad if you could change your language, which I find upsetting. I think it would not only make me happier but would also recruit even more people to your campaigns and gradually but surely contribute to world peace. Your statement, in the email you recently sent about saving bee populations by banning pesticides you said:


"Mr Paterson, you lost. The bees won."

This suggests that Mr Paterson lost, when in fact, if your cause is as just as I believe it is, he won too.  His world is going to be a better place. 

Also, this is going to set him up in an antagonistic position and make it hard for him to agree with you that it is good that the bees won. 

So please from now on please can we see statements like:

"Mr Paterson, guess what, you're a winner too, because while the bees win, so do you and all of us.'


With thanks for your consideration of my unhappiness

Hannah Bridge

A thousand mile journey begins with the FIRST STEP. We need to keep taking the steps.

Pleaes support the ban on bee-killing pesticides

I Love to bee's in the trees

Hi Hannah,

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I was trying to refer specifically to the vote itself, which does have winners and losers, as opposed to the issue of bees more generally, where you're right we all win or lose :)

I'll try and ramp down the antagonism next time and drink less coffee!

Thanks again,


Digital campaigner 

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