EU member states have voted by qualified majority to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on outdoor crops.

The vote follows a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which found that the pesticides posed a threat to many species of bees, no matter where or how they were used in the outdoor environment.

Martin Smith, Director of Communications for the BBKA said: “We support this ban but we must be alert to what farmers will use instead on their outdoor crops.

“The position of the British Beekeepers Association has long been to support the banning of these long lasting systemic pesticides, unless their use can be shown not to harm both honey and other bees as well as the environment.”

EFSA study

“The European Food Safety Authority sponsored research into their effects and this was published last year.  As a result, the UK government changed its stance from opposing the ban to supporting it, based on the sound scientific evidence that emerged.

“The BBKA expressed its support for the position of Her Majesty’s Government when Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP announced this change of position and felt that, as the UK was one of the leading countries in Europe to originally oppose the moratorium announced a few years ago, this change of heart was likely to lead to the ban being made permanent.

“Now this has been confirmed our position as beekeepers is ensure that any pesticides used in the place of the banned substances do not lead to other harmful effects on honey bees or other pollinating insects.”

The move represents a major extension of existing restrictions, in place since 2013 on imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Loss of biodiversity

Honeybee losses, that have been higher than the long term average in recent years, are caused by a whole series of factors including the environment, loss of biodiversity, intensive farming practises as well as pesticides.

There has been a rapid take up of beekeeping in recent years with new beekeepers often interested in the pollination that bees undertake rather than honey production.

Other neonicotinoids, including thiacloprid and sulfoxaflor, will continue to be exempt from the ban.

The new regulation will be adopted in the coming weeks and will be applicable by the end of the year.

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