Party for the Animals gets EP’s support to protect bees
Last week, the European Parliament led by the Dutch Party for the Animals has put a veto on the so-called guidance on bees. According to a majority of the MEPs, the European Union’s plans are not sufficient to prevent the extinction of bees, butterflies and other important insect species.
Party for the Animals’ MEP Anja Hazekamp: “Bees and other pollinators are essential to the survival of countless species of insects and plants. Moreover, 84% of all food crops grown in Europe are dependent on pollinators such as bees. If the bee goes extinct because the EU fails to take serious action, the consequences for both nature and our food production will be catastrophic.”
The use of agricultural toxins is a major cause of the bee’s extinction. That is why as early as in 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommended to monitor short-term and long-term risks for bees in toxin assessments. However, as a result of pressure from several Member States, the EFSA’s recommendations have still not been transposed into legislation.
The Netherlands have played an important role in this: while the Dutch House of Representatives has repeatedly spoken out in favour of a ban on toxins that are harmful to bees, behind the scenes, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten has been campaigning for years in Brussels to weaken the bee guidance, a decision of which she failed to inform the House of Representatives. Through a motion by Esther Ouwehand, leader of the Party for the Animals, the House of Representatives called on Minister Schouten last May to cease the Dutch resistance against the guidance on bees.
After six years, the European Committee has this year finally introduced a proposition for a guidance on bees, already weakened by countries such as the Netherlands. The proposition includes that the short-term effects of toxins on bees are to be assessed in the safety assessment, but it does not take into account any long-term effects. “This weak regulation still allows for toxins that endanger bee populations. The proposal for this bee guidance is weak and will not prevent the extinction of bees,” says Hazekamp.
Because of the European Parliament’s veto, the European Commission will have to revoke its current legislative proposal. In addition, the European Parliament urges the European Commission to come up with a better proposal.
Last week, the EU Member States also decided not to renew the licence for agricultural toxin thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid classified as 'suspected to be carcinogenic to human beings'.
A petition of international consumer group SumOfUs against this agricultural toxin was signed by 383,000 people, who demanded a ban on the product because of its link to cancer, reduced fertility and damage to bee populations.
The Party for the Animals was the first political party to warn against the dangers of the new super toxins in agriculture, called neonicotinoids. As early as 2013, a majority of the Dutch House of Representatives supported a motion by the Party for the Animals calling for a ban on all neonicotinoids. After that however, it took many years before a – partial – ban on the use of neonicotinoids was introduced, which did not include thiacloprid.
After last week’s decision of the Member States, thiacloprid is now also banned for agricultural use.