(UR) Paris, France — Since as early as the 1990s, the Honey Bee has been disappearing at an alarming rate. The importance of this has not been lost on scientists and agriculturists, primarily as the honey bee pollinates “84% of the crops grown for human consumption,” as the Guardian noted. Given their significance to human agriculture and their importance to the food chain as a whole, academic and scientific study of this phenomenon has been ongoing.
Like anything else in nature, there is no one single cause to the sudden disappearance of bee colonies throughout the Western world. Increasingly, however, there is one cause specifically that can be linked directly to human involvement: chemical pesticides. In a Harvard study published in 2014, scientists examined the role neonicotinoids (chemically manufactured pesticides) play in what is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. The results indicated that even at “sublethal” doses, the toxin has a quantifiable effect on the sustainability of bee colonies.
France last week, in an effort to curb this loss of our most important source of natural pollination, began moving forward with a proposal to outlaw the use of those pesticides containing neonicotinoids. Although this law only specifically moves towards reducing the role humans directly play in colony loss, it is a step in the direction that hopes to see bee populations sustained and resuscitated.
The French decision to move forward with this ban is not specifically new, and it stems from a E.U. proposition put forth in 2013 that sought to ban the use of neonicotinoids on a continental level. Other countries that have attempted to remove the chemical from the agricultural arsenal of industrial food producers, however, have been met with stiff opposition from the corporate chemical lobby — leading countries like the U.K. to temporarily lift the ban. The influence of the lobby, unfortunately, seems more powerful than the loss of one of our only consistent pollinators.
If France can successfully pass this legislation through both houses, and implement it in spite of strong lobbying from manufacturers, this will represent a country placing the importance of a sustainable ecosystem before the needs of corporate profits. More importantly, it will give the honey bee one more chance at survival.
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