Next Monday, 25th February 2013, EU member states will vote on whether or not to restrict the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on certain flowering crops throughout Europe. The results of this vote are of ENORMOUS consequence. We’re talking here about nothing short of mass extinction if our already depleted pollinator population is not protected, at the very least, from being poisoned by insecticides. It’s not as if we haven’t already pushed them to the brink by destroying and degrading their habitat.
You’d have thought the unprecedented decline of the creatures responsible for pollinating a third of the world’s food – not to mention over 80% of all the flowering plants on this planet – might prompt concern; that it might justify a mention on the six o’clock news, or an appearance on the front page of the national newspapers.
But no. Incredibly, the majority of the population are still completely oblivious of the fact there even IS a problem. I believe people would be outraged if they were to understand exactly how serious this issue has become – but the fact that it’s not making headline news means they are not party to the information that might make them think twice about using pesticides – and/or prompt them to plant bee attracting flowers in their gardens. One of the most frustrating things about bee decline is that it is something we could all do something about. If only we knew it was happening.
I appreciate that the current horse meat issue is scandalous, but seriously, it’s a picnic in the park compared with the possibility of mass insect extinction. And, make no mistake, if we don’t do everything we can to halt the decline of bees and other pollinators, that is exactly where we’re heading.
As I’ve written in previous posts, pesticides are not the only cause of bee decline. We have lost 98% of our wildflower meadows and grasslands since the end of the second world war and this has already had a very serious impact on bee species and population. Banning, or at least restricting the use of the neonicotinoid group of insecticides that are implicated in bee deaths will not in itself solve the problem; but it will go a long way towards it. It’s too late to bring back most of the the lost habitat, but we KNOW these pesticides are contributing to bee decline and it is within our power to stop using them.
Please also take the time to watch this film, which explores another angle on the declining Bee population.