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EU to ban neonicotinoid pesticides

A vote in the EU has paved the way for the European Commission to restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths in scientific studies.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations.

Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.

But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban - not enough to form a qualified majority. According to EU rules the Commission will now impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 July this year.

The UK did not vote in favour of the ban - it argues that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive.

Wild species such as honey bees are said by researchers to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world's crop production.

There is heated debate about what has triggered the widespread decline in bee populations. Besides chemicals, many experts point to the parasitic varroa mite, viruses that attack bees and neglect of hives.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said Monday's vote "makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban.

"Those countries opposing a ban have failed."

An EU vote last month was inconclusive, so the Commission proposal went to an appeals committee on Monday - and again the countries were split on the issue.

Some restrictions are already in place for neonicotinoids in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.

Source: www.bbc.com

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