Europe will enforce the world's first continent-wide ban on widely used insecticides alleged to cause serious harm to bees, after a European commission vote on Monday.
Recent research suggests that widespread agricultural use of imidacloprid and other pesticides may be contributing to honey bee colony collapse disorder, the decline of honey bee colonies in Europe and North America observed since 2006. As a result, several countries have restricted use of imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids.
In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied on may be flawed, or even deceptive.
Now in March the EU has taken further steps by a restriction on use. This will initially only be for two years. It is also not a complete “ban” – it applies to flowering crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators, but doesn’t apply to winter cereals or “unattractive” crops.
Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide which acts as an insect neurotoxin and belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids which act on the central nervous system. The chemical works by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect nervous system.
In Australia it is sold under many different names including Gaucho and Senator.
Fortunately these products ARE NOT used in growing grapes, however they are used in some horticultural production - notably onions.