Europe bans another pesticide in a bid to protect honeybees

From 31 December 2013, European farmers will not be allowed to use the pesticide fipronil on maize or sunflowers. Some seeds can still be treated if the crops are sown in greenhouses or the crops harvested before flowering.

The latest decision follows the European commission’s two year ban on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, in an attempt to protect bees. Fipronil acts as a central nervous system disruptor and in May the commission labelled it an ‘acute high risk’ to honeybees. In a paper published online today, fipronil, as well as deltamethrin and spinosad, was shown to to be harmful to bees even at sub-lethal doses.

Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health, said: ‘In the aftermath of the restriction on use of neonicotinoids, I pledged to do my utmost to protect Europe’s honeybee population and today’s agreement with member states, not only delivers on that pledge but marks another significant step in realising the commission’s overall strategy to tackling Europe’s bee decline.’