France Bans Popular Bee-Killing Pesticides Made by Bayer

France Bans Popular Bee-Killing Pesticides Made by Bayer

 

France Bans Popular Bee-Killing Pesticides Made by Bayer

A contentious French ban on a popular type of pesticide that is decimating bee populations goes into effect on September 1, as new findings are published showing bumblebees get addicted to the harmful chemical.

Neonicotinoids were once hailed as the future of pesticides. Billed in the 1990s as less harmful than traditional poisons, the lab-created, nicotine-based chemical produced by Bayer Monsanto and Syngenta gets absorbed by plants instead of sitting on the surface, and attacks the central nervous system of insects that land or prey upon them. They quickly became among the most popular pesticides, being applied to all manner of flowering crops, Channel News Asia noted.

A number of factors were initially fingered for the affliction, including fungi and viruses, but mounting evidence has proven that pesticides, and neonicotinoids in particular, are the major cause.

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Accordingly, France has moved to ban five neonicotinoid pesticides beginning September 1, giving France the strictest pesticide laws in the European Union, which has only banned three of the five for agricultural uses.

The bill on biodiversity regrowth, nature and landscapes, passed in July 2016, took 27 months of debate to get through the French Parliament, Journal de l’Environnement reported at the time, noting that environmentalists feared the two-year delay in implementing the pesticide ban was designed to give opponents the chance to water down the restrictions.

“At first, it appeared that the bees did avoid the food containing the pesticide,” said lead author Andres Arce, a researcher at Imperial College London. “However, as individual bees increasingly experience the treated food, they develop a preference for it.”

In other words, in the long run the pesticide doesn’t repulse insects: it attracts them, and then it kills them.

The new law only covers neonicotinoid use in agriculture, though, leaving environmentalists and bee fans concerned about its continued use in non-agricultural pest control, such as in flea collars for pet cats and dogs, or in household fly traps.

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