"No qualified majority" as decision on bee pesticides postponed again

Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has expressed his frustration at the continued deadlock to restrict the use of three pesticides (known as "neonicotinoids") due to strong evidence of their harmful impact on bee populations.

The EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which today postponed again a decision on the Commission's proposals. As last month, the Committee failed to reach the "qualified majority" of Member States required to approve Commission proposals, and will not return to the issue until May.

Commenting, Alyn said:

"I am frustrated by the continued unwillingness of many Member States, including my own, to act on the clear and growing evidence of the serious risks to bee health caused by neonicotinoids.

“While the dramatic fall in bee populations cannot be solely put down to one cause (the growth in monocultures and the Varroa mite are also to blame), the EFSA review and other studies have made it clear that these pesticides do have a significant impact on bee populations.

“If the precautionary principle is to have any meaning this is evidence upon which we must act.

“I felt the Commission proposal was a proportionate response. We don't have enough evidence for a blanket ban - although this is a path we should take if further studies justify this - but the proposal did put forward a partial ban based on the specific risks which EFSA identified.

“I am particularly worried by the clear extent to which European decision making processes are being subverted by industry lobbying and corporate propaganda. On the other hand, I am heartened by the strong citizen-led grassroots response, with 2.5 million Europeans signing a petition supporting these proposals. We need much more of this if we are to throw open European policy- making to the continental demos."