In 2013, the European Union banned the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops. What does this mean? To put it simply, neonicotinoids are insect-harming pesticides that scientific research has proven to be harmful to bee colonies, which are experiencing devastation around the industrialized world.
The EU would now like a total ban in greenhouses as well, and it look like that might pass. Until now, the United Kingdom's position on the use of neonicotinoids has been less stringent, their environment secretary, Michael Gove, has come completely around on the issue.
“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” Gove told The Guardian.
“I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”
Gove's stance is backed up by new research from the UK’s Expert Committee on Pesticides, which came up with new conclusions on the effects of these pesticides to pollinator health.
“Exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides under field conditions can have an unacceptable effect on honeybee health” they concluded. “Such unacceptable effects are occurring at a landscape level and between seasons.”
This also comes with research stating that most farmers could drastically slash their pesticide use without damaging their crop production at all.
Gove is planning to funnel money from a new subsidy into researching more sustainable forms of farming that care for the entire eco-system, not just production. Though there is still more research to be done, he seems to believe that it's clear what path humanity needs to take, saying, “While there is still uncertainty in the science, it is increasingly pointing in one direction.”