Neonicotinoids and Bees: France Still the Only Country to Ban All Five Pesticides Linked to Bee Deaths

The controversial connection between neonicotinoids and bees has reached new heights. In May 2018, the EU banned three of the significant neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in the collapse of bee populations. Clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are now prohibited for use on all field crops. However, in September 2018, France took the effort a step further by also banning thiacloprid and acetamiprid and set the bar even higher in the effort to save the bees. Given the importance of pollinators to nature and the survival of the biosphere, this could not happen too soon!

Studies report that the neonicotinoid pesticides attack the central nervous system of insects, leading to loss of memory and homing skills. It is also connected to reduced fertility. Bees that cannot find their way back to the hive quickly die. Additionally, the pesticides have also been shown to affect butterflies, birds and other pollinating insects.

The History of France and Neonicotinoid Pesticides

There is a reason why France is ahead of the curve. France tested the “bee killing” pesticides first on French fields in the 1990’s – and the French farmers witnessed first-hand the catastrophic effects that occurred in 1994; describing “a carpet of dead bees”. 400,000 bee colonies died within days – yet they buried the story under a layer of corruption and distorted science.

Since that time, activists and manufacturers have battled to control the situation. We covered the story “Overwhelming Evidence Linking Neonicotinoid Insecticides To Massive Die-off Of Bees And Songbirds in a previous post. However, while many ecologists celebrated the move, it was met with trepidation by some farmers. These skeptics questioned the validity of the data against neonicotinoids, concerned the ban could negatively affect their crops.

Most importantly, France's ban sets a precedent and keeps the conversation about bee conservation alive. It's an excellent example of how one small step can protect an important part of nature and set an example for the rest of the world.  

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