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France becomes first country in Europe to ban five neonicotinoid insecticides
France will take a radical step towards protecting its dwindling bee population on last Saturday by becoming the first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides researchers believe are killing off the insects.
 
The move to ban the five so-called neonicotinoids has been hailed by beekeepers and environmentalists, but cereal and sugar beet farmers warn it could leave them all but defenceless in protecting valuable crops against other harmful insects.
 
By enforcing the blanket ban, France is going further than the European Union, which voted to outlaw the use of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam - in crop fields starting on December 19.
 
France has banned these three, along with thiacloprid and acetamiprid, not only outdoors but in greenhouses too.
 
Initially opposed, Britain now backs the less comprehensive EU bandue to evidence supporting claims the chemicals contribute to “colony collapse disorder”, a mysterious phenomenon that has seen bee populations plummet by up to 90 per cent in some cases. Other potential causes are mites, viruses and fungi.
 
Introduced in the mid-1990s, synthetic neonicotinoids share the chemical structure of nicotine and attack the central nervous system of insects. Intended to replace older, more harmful pesticides, they are now the most widely used to treat flowering crops, such as fruit trees, beets and vineyards.
 
But scientific studies have shown that neonicotinoids cut bees’ sperm count and scramble their memory and homing skills. Fresh research out this week even suggests the bees can develop a dangerous addiction to the insecticides, much like smokers for nicotine.
Prev: Brazilian justice drops suspension of glyphosate Next: Health Canada proposes banning neonicotinoid insecticides in five years

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