Buzz-Kill: Pesticide Ban controversy staggers the European Commission

0315_buzzkill_630x420 Big Pharma won Friday’s first round of their fight to defeat a European proposal to ban a trio of common pesticides suspected of killing bees. The closely watched measure, which calls for an EU-wide moratorium of three types of neonicotinoid pesticides, failed the votes needed in the 27 EU Member States today, an outcome hailed by manufacturers of chemicals.

Despite inconclusive vote today, the European Commission says no backing down in its attempt to obtain the chemicals, pesticides used in two of Bayer CropScience (BAYN) and one by Syngenta (SYT)-either prohibited or restricted by this summer. “We have no intention of abandoning it,” said Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the EC Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which proposed the ban. He added that the proposal, with or without modifications, could be scheduled for a new vote by the Member States in the next two months.

Europe beekeepers like the odds. “The importance of today’s vote means that the chemical industry has had to deliver a knockout and not. Following the first round, we’re still in the game,” said Walter Haefeker, president of the European Association Professional beekeepers.

Bees pollinate the $ 200 billion dollars in annual crops, so it is a global imperative to find a cure for what is called bee colony collapse disorder. The scientific community is still divided on why the bees disappear as wide a number. However, the European Food Safety Authority in January recommended a very controversial EU-wide ban on a trio of neonicotinoid pesticides, even acknowledged that there is a clear link between the chemicals and the colony collapse disorder.

The EC does not break out how member states voted today. Environmental groups in Brussels after the vote, however, said the big blow came when Germany and the United Kingdom decided to abstain, putting the measure on a temporary legislative limbo.

“This is an easy way out for a significant number of European governments, including the UK,” said Paul de Zylva, working on legislative policy advocacy organization Friends of the Earth Europe. “It means more dither and delay while our bee populations plummet.”

Meanwhile, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, have argued that the ban would cost European agriculture of $ 22 billion in lower yields in the next five years and could put 50,000 people out of work, welcomed today’s vote unfinished. In a statement, Bayer CropScience called “a clear recognition that there is no convincing argument against the continued use of neonicotinoid-based products.” Syngenta said, “The restriction of the use of this technology to protect vital crops will do nothing to help improve the health of the bees.”


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