The debate about the health of the little buzzing critters that routinely disrupt picnics – Bees – has taken on an ever-widening scope. Within the last decade scientific evidence has shown that wild species of bees, or honeybees, are responsible for pollinating “one third of the world’s crops.” And it’s also become common knowledge that their global numbers are in serious decline due to rising temperatures, pesticides and habitat destruction. This is bad news for humans and bees. So, recently much European Union debate has centered on a number of pesticides, most specifically neonicotinoids, and their potential for harm. Many European countries have banned the substance already, but Germany and the UK have abstained, waiting for more scientific evidence – but a core of parliamentarians, and some of the public, are demanding action now.
An extensive piece on BBC online recently detailed this complicated issue. Without action, bee colonies may continue to suffer, causing potentially billions in food and crop costs, but it may also be premature to ban such substances and ineffective financially to find a replacement. One thing the article did highlight, was the necessity for pharmaceutical companies to be open about their research, thus helping governments and regulatory bodies to make a fair assessment on the environmental impact of these pesticides, “The committee asks for more openness from the chemical manufacturers who should publish their own research on the safety of these products,” the article said. Of course that will take regulation and policing. The pesticide in question has been used for more than twenty years, and individual studies by both suppliers and environmental groups have been too confined or small to properly ascertain their impact.
But, for a nation as in love with gardening as the UK is, the real lawmaking is already happening at the consumer level – “with garden chains, B&Q, Wickes and Homebase withdrawing non-professional plant protection products that contain neonicotinoid chemicals,” the BBC reports. This is yet another example of population policymaking. Good work, why wait?