Viewpoint: Bees and pesticides—Europe’s precautionary rules neglect science, hinder sustainable farming

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A core element of EU environmental law is the precautionary principle (PP), which theoretically requires regulators to err on the side of caution when there is a lack of full scientific certainty. To many this may sound eminently sensible, but the reality is that it …. often results in counterproductive measures.

O[]ne need look no further than its assessment and regulation of agricultural pesticides. Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a relatively new insecticide that held the promise of controlling agricultural pests, while limiting environmental harm and farm worker exposure.

Some environmental activists believed neonics would pose a threat to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which feed on the plant’s nectar. The idea that this new insecticide would harm bees was certainly not implausible and deserved scientific inquiry. However, as David Zaruk, an environmental health risk policy analyst has described in exhaustive detail, what took place was anything but scientific.

Related article:  Europe stands alone in its 'backward de facto ban' of agricultural gene editing, European scientists warn

Based on documents unearthed by Zaruk, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) orchestrated a campaign with the goal of proving neonics were harming bees and other pollinators, and then putting pressure on the EU to impose a total ban.

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