Landmark victory: EU bans bee-killing pesticides

Media Contacts
Kara Cook-Schultz

In a historic vote today, the European Union (EU) passed a continent-wide restriction on the use of bee-harming pesticides. Despite immense pressure from the pesticide industry, the EU nations sided with bees.

Citing concerns for food production, the environment and for biodiversity, the EU is set to completely ban the outdoor use of neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) that have been blamed for killing bees, birds, wildlife, and for keeping other bees from laying eggs.

“This is an historic ban,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, Director for U.S. PIRG’s Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides campaign. “The EU is protecting its bees, its food, and its citizens from these toxic pesticides. It’s time for the U.S. to catch up.” 

According to the new rule, all outdoor use of the three substances will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where no contact with bees is expected, as the EU announced on Friday.

Here in the U.S., policymakers have yet to step up. And with beekeepers in this country reporting record-breaking bee losses this year — up to 40% or more — action to protect bees is more urgent than ever.

The EU vote comes after significant findings by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) that neonics in particular pose an unacceptable risk to bees and to food production. 

This news comes one week after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closed its comment period asking for public comments about the risks of using several bee-killing pesticides. U.S. PIRG provided thousands of comments to the EPA, urging them to restrict the use of these dangerous pesticides. 

States like Connecticut and Maryland have recently passed partial bans on the use of bee-killing pesticides. Other states like Massachusetts and Wisconsin are currently considering similar bans. This news from the EU and the EFSA provides more evidence that a ban on neonicotinoids is needed throughout the country.