During the last few years within the EU, much attention has been given to the role of crop protection products in the phenomenon of huge bee mortality. E.g. recent studies show that neonicotinoids affect the immune system of the bees, as a result of which they become more susceptible to diseases. In 2013 several measures have been taken to limit the exposure of bees to certain crop protection products.
On the 24th of May 2013, the European Commission has imposed a temporary restriction on the agricultural use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, three insecticides of the chemical family of the neonicotinoids. The Commission has done this, based on an evaluation of the risks for the bees by the European Authority for Food Safety EFSA (clothianidin, thiamethoxam, imidacloprid).
Since the 1st of December 2013, these substances may no longer be used on flowering crops, which are inviting to bees, or on seedbeds of such crops and cereals. Moreover, the use is restricted to professional users. Since the 1st of December 2013, treated seeds may no longer be sown.
After two years an evaluation of the recent studies on the influence of these crop protection products on bees will be carried out, after which the restrictions will possibly be adapted (see also ‘Evaluation and management of the risks of pesticides’).
By analogy with the neonicotinoides, in 2013 also restrictions for the use of the crop protection product Fipronil have been approved, based on a report by EFSA. The measures apply since the 1st of March 2014.
By order of the European Commission, EFSA has drawn up a ‘Guidance on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees’ (see ‘Evaluation and management of risks of pesticides’).
This is based on the newest scientific insights on the effects of pesticides on bees and their exposure to these products.