Farm Progress

Honey bee politics trump science in neonic ban

Farmers in Europe and elsewhere are almost universally opposed to a temporary ban on neonicotinoids absent definitive research.

May 2, 2013

1 Min Read

In a move they say will protect bees, the European Commission announced it would impose a two-year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, although a sharp divide remains whether politics or science is driving this policy change.

Farmers in Europe and elsewhere are almost universally opposed to even a temporary ban absent definitive real world research, calling it reckless. As they note, because bans exist on more toxic organophosphates—the chemicals that neonics replaced because of their more benign safety profile—there are no real alternatives.

Farmers scoff at activist claims that comprehensive spraying programs could suddenly be replaced by crop rotations or the use of natural pest predators—the tools of organic farmers who produce only a fraction of the volume required by commercial farms to feed growing populations. It’s estimated that without neonics or a suitable replacement, farmers could face losses estimated by one industry study as $5.78 billion per year in Europe alone—and many multiples of that if a ban is instituted in the United States and other major agricultural economies, with the costs passed on to consumers.

For more, see: The Politics of Bees Turns Science on its Head -- Europe Bans Neonics While Local Beekeepers, Scientists Say Action is Precipitous


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