EU nations back ban on insecticides to protect honey bees

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European Union countries backed a proposal on Friday to ban all use outdoors of insecticides known as neonicotinoids that studies have shown can harm bees

The ban, championed by environmental activists, covers the use of three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.

The use of neonicotinoids in the European Union has been restricted to certain crops since 2013, but environmental groups have called for a total ban and sparked a debate across the continent about the wider use of chemicals in farming.

Activists from Avaaz and protesters gathered outside the European institutions described the decision of EU governments as a “beacon of hope” for bees.

Dressed up with bee costumes and accompanied by a giant inflatable bee, they celebrated the decision singing and dancing at a square near the European Council and the European Commission buildings.