European Union Bans All Outdoor Uses of Neonicotinoids

​A bee pollinates a blossom in the almond orchard on Paramount Farms in McFarland, CA in 2014.​

A bee pollinates a blossom in the almond orchard.

The European Union has approved a near-total ban on neonicotinoids, an insecticide that has been linked to the decline of bees and other pollinators. According to the new ban, farmers will only be allowed to apply neonicotinoids to plants grown inside greenhouses, the BBC reported. All outdoor applications of the chemicals will be prohibited.

The regulation is an extension of European Union restrictions on neonicotinoids passed in 2013, which prohibited use of three chemicals in this class — imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam — on maize, wheat, barley, oats, and oil seed rape. The new ban bars farmers from using the three chemicals on any outdoor crop or plant.

“Banning these toxic pesticides is a beacon of hope for bees,” Antonia Staats of the Avaaz campaign group said in a statement. “Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can’t live with these chemicals and we can’t live without bees.” Nearly 5 million people have signed a petition organized by Avaaz that called on European nations to ban neonicotinoids.

The decision by the European Union follows the release of a recent report from the European Food Safety Authority that analyzed findings from more than 1,500 studies on the impacts of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators. “For all the outdoor uses of these substances, there was at least one aspect of the assessment indicating a high risk, leading to the conclusion that overall these neonicotinoids represent a risk to bees,” the report said.

The new regulation is expected to come into force by the end of 2018, The Guardian reported.