A series of high-profile scientific studies has linked neonicotinoids – the world's most widely used insecticides – to huge losses in the number of queen bees produced and big rises in the numbers of "disappeared" bees – those that fail to return from foraging trips.
The commission proposed the suspension after the EFSA concluded in January that three neonicotinoids – thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid – posed an unnacceptable risk to bees. The three will be banned from use for two years on flowering crops such as corn, oilseed rape and sunflowers, upon which bees feed.Although it's described as a "ban," it's only banned on certain flowering crops that bees visit. So it's just a limitation - but at least a start.
Today I saw a report that at least one of these insecticides has been implicated in the deaths of aquatic insects as well:
The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, found that 70% less [sic] invertebrate species were found in water polluted with the insecticide compared to clean water. There were also far fewer individuals of each species in the polluted water. "This is the first study to show this happens in the field," van der Sluijs said. As well as killing mayflies, midges and molluscs, the pollution could have a knock-on effect on birds such as swallows that rely on flying insects for food, he added.
"We are risking far too much to combat a few insect pests that might threaten agriculture," said Dr Jeroen van der Sluijs at Utrecht University. "This substance should be phased out internationally as soon as possible." The pollution was so bad in some places that the ditch water in fields could have been used as an effective pesticide, he said.