The European Bee Week: small steps in front of the emergency!

Saturday 08 June 2013

bee decline bee health pesticides agriculture

Press release - 8.06.2013 The European Bee Week (1), organised by the UNEP and Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech presented various topics related to bees, in Europe and around the world, from scientific and political perspectives. There was finally a general acknowledgment about real risks pesticides pose to bees. However, the implementation of comprehensive strategies to protect pollinators against pesticides remains unclear and limited priority at European level.

The essential role of pollinators as a pillar of biodiversity and food production as well as the complexity and multifaceted problem of bees decline is now well established. Factors such as pathogens, the availability of food resources, habitat, climate change, and pesticides, all have individual or combined effects on bee health. However, while the predatory mite Varroa was highlighted as a key factor, pesticides remain a factor among all the others.

At political level, the European Commission, a majority of Member States (2), and many MEPs (3) played recently a key role in the ban of three neonicotinoids. The fact that this action has been taken by DG SANCO demonstrates acknowledgment of the actual risk of neurotoxic pesticides to bees. However, there had been limited measures on that topic in terms of research or fundamental farming reform.

For the European Beekeeping Coordination, it is essential that the European authorities consider urgently as a priority sustainable models of food production, with an emphasis on reduced dependence on pesticides.

Actions towards types of farming which consume less pesticides and less energy should definitely become a central element in the discussions to protect pollinators. Research projects that demonstrate the benefits of such farming systems to pollinator health should be supported. Innovative approaches must be put in place to boost the political strategies for sustainable protection of bees, farmers and beekeepers.

For more information please contact: Francesco Panella, spokesman for European Beekeeping Coordination Tel: +32 10 47 16 34, -

(1) The Bee Week 2013, was organised by the UNEP, the Univeristy of Liège (Gembloux agro bio tech)
(2) The partial ban of neonicotinoids was voted on 29 April 2013 and adopted on 24 May 2013. (3) Letter signed by 80 MEPs from 6 political groups sent to Commissioner Borg on January 2013.