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European Union member states vote to ban neonicotinoids

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Some restrictions were introduced in 2013, banning their use on a number of crops including wheat, barley and oats.

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.

Many environmental groups, including GreenPeace, applauded the EU's decision to ban neonicotinoids and said, while bee pollination makes up 35 percent of global crop production volume, more needs to be done for their protection given bees' role in food production and the environment, The Verge reported.

Today's (27 April) decision by EU Member States to restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids to applications in permanent greenhouses has been called a "bad deal for the European agricultural sector and the environment" by Bayer.

"These neonicotinoids are now used as seed dressings on winter cereals in Ireland".

European Commission officials hope the ban will come into force by the end of the year.

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The ban on neonicotinoid pesticides has been extended to all outdoor crops, including East Anglia's sugar beet.

"Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can't live with these chemicals and we can't live without bees". The NFU believes a risk-based approach should be taken, where the impacts of potential changes are fully understood and recognised as providing genuine opportunities to improve bee and pollinator health.

France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta all voted in favour of the move. Honeybees are critical to the production of about one-third of human food, including many fruits and nuts, but their populations have been steadily declining in recent years.

Greenpeace said that several other insecticides are threat to bees, including four neonicotinoids now allowed by the EU.

"It's a significant indication that we need a different form of farming across Europe that farms with nature and not against it", said Sandra Bell from Friends of the Earth.

Policy adviser, Franziska Achterberg, said: "These three neonicotinoids are just the tip of the iceberg - there are many more pesticides out there, including other neonicotinoids that are just as risky for bees and food production".

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