So, Europe has decided not to ban Neonicotinoids. The vote resulted in a stalemate. 13 of the 27 European Union member states voted in favour of a ban, while nine voted against and five, including Britain, abstained.
The issue here is do these products affect bees - especially honey bees? If you listen to many Bee keepers and some environmental scientists you would soon be convinced that they do. On the other hand, Bayer and Syngenta, the two major manufacturers of Neonicotinoids say that they have carried out extensive trials and that there is no evidence to suggest that bees are harmed.
Our own Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, has said that he wants to see his own Government's trial results on the effects of neonicotinoids on bees, expected later this year, before he makes a firm decision.
My own thoughts are that we do need more urgent research before banning these products. Neonicotonoids are usually coated onto crop seeds and therefore the insecticide is buried along with the seed at drilling time, keeping it out of harms way. I prefer this technique in most scenarios to an overhead broad spectrum insecticide spray delivered out of a sprayer, which potentially kills most of the insect life living in the crop (which would of course be the case if Neonicotinoids were banned).
Having said all of this however, if real proof is found that months later bees feeding on the nectar of treated crops are affected, perhaps in a non-lethal way, for instance by disorientating them so they cannot find their way back to the hive again, then of course action should be taken to put a ban in place. I for one will be watching this debate very closely and will keep you posted!.