In a decisive move, France has become the first country to ban all five of the top pesticides blamed for bee die-off around the world. The phenomenon dubbed “colony collapse disorder” has seen bees dying in record numbers, and scientists are pointing fingers as neonicotinoid pesticides as the primary suspect.

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The EU led the charge by banning three of the pesticides: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. However, France took it one step further by also banning thiacloprid and acetamiprid in all farming activities, including greenhouses.

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The neonicotinoids (with a similar structure to nicotine) were introduced in the 1990s and work by attacking the central nervous system of the insects. With the same chemical being dusted on plants that bees target, they also ingest it.

Researchers report that neonicotinoids are responsible for a lower sperm count in bees, cutting reproduction rates. Other reports have shown how the chemicals interfere with memory and homing skills, resulting in bees flying away and not returning to the hive. The latest research suggests bees may find the toxic chemicals addictive, keeping them returning for more.

The scientific link between pesticides and the declining health of bee populations has many concerned about the future of our food products. Plants, flowers and trees won’t grow without the pollination that bees provide, which means food won’t grow, either. Some farmers are reporting near total losses to their bee populations, which has a dire effect on the workings of the farm.

While environmentalists and bee keepers are saluting the decision to ban these pesticides, some farmers are feeling disheartened by their ability to compete in the food production market without chemicals to protect them against invasive bugs and harmful insects. The farmers feel there is not enough evidence to support such a dramatic move. The elimination of these pesticides begs the question of what will replace them and what potential issues could arise from those solutions.

In contrast to the landmark move by France, President Trump repealed an Obama-era policy that had banned the use of these pesticides near national wildlife refuges, once again allowing farmers to use them in otherwise protected regions with limited oversight.

Via The Telegraph

Image via Anna Reiff