The European Union has recently decided to ban three of the world’s most widely used pesticides for 2 years, as they are linked to colony collapse disorder in bees. It wasn’t a unanimous decision, or even enough countries to achieve the weighted majority needed to ban the pesticides outright, which is why the issue was passed to the executive European Commission.
Predictably, the manufacturers of the pesticides claimed that the ban would result in billions of Euros in lowered or lost crop yields. However the EC presumably decided to adopt the precautionary principle and act now, even though the cause of colony collapse disorder is still somewhat uncertain, probably because, according to this UN report on bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), various insect and animal pollinators perform services for the global economy worth about US$203 billion per year.
And here is where I get a bit controversial, so put on your shouty faces: it doesn’t really matter how severe CCD is, nor what causes it, because as with climate change, we may not have the leisure to wait until the crisis is obvious to everyone.
What really matters is that we need to stop taking our ecosystem for granted and start taking care of it, and that requires that we keep an open mind and be more willing to step lightly on the planet. Which includes giving the bees a break from the toxins, and other suggestions from the UN report linked above.
[Featured image Honeybees grooming by Alex Ford, Victoria, age 17]