U.K. Parliament Adds to Pressure on Pesticides

Cross-pollinated. A proposed innovation institute could combine the work of industry scientists with government and academic researchers. Entomologist Jeffery Pettis measures the health of bee colonies at the ARS Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland.

Cross-pollinated. A proposed innovation institute could combine the work of industry scientists with government and academic researchers. Entomologist Jeffery Pettis measures the health of bee colonies at the ARS Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Mar

Peggy Greb/USDA

The environment committee of the United Kingdom's House of Commons is calling for a ban of three common pesticides in order to protect honey bees and other pollinators. "We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action," the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Joan Walley, said in a statement.

The number of honey bees and many wild pollinators have declined in the United Kingdom from a variety of causes, including habitat loss and disease. There is debate about the role of pesticides in the loss of honey bee colonies, but evidence is growing that they do harm bumblebees. In September, the Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee began an inquiry into how the United Kingdom should be regulating pesticides.

Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority issued a report in January that three pesticides are an "acute risk" to honey bees and should not be used on corn and other crops from which bees collect pollen. Later in the month, the European Commission, which had requested the study, proposed a 2-year ban of three common neonicotinoids for four crops. Member nations then voted down the ban, and the United Kingdom abstained.

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