Brussels – EU member states decided on Tuesday to add a fourth neonicotinoid substance to a list of banned pesticides believed to be harmful to bees and humans, the European Commission and the bloc’s food safety watchdog said.
A decline in bee populations in recent years has been linked to the use of pesticides in agriculture.
Bees play an important role in the pollination of crops, so their decrease in numbers has posed economic and food-supply concerns.
In 2018, EU countries decided to ban the outdoor use of the three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – which act by damaging the central nervous system of insects, including bees.
Thiacloprid will now be added to that list, following a decision Tuesday by a panel of experts representing the European Union’s 28 member states, the European Commission’s food safety unit wrote on Twitter.
“Thiacloprid: Member states have endorsed our proposal to withdraw a neonicotinoid from the EU due to unacceptable risks to [bees, water and humans],” the tweet says.
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) published a peer review of thiacloprid in January.
The report highlighted particular concern over Thiacloprid entering the ground water and found that there was not enough data to assess the risk to consumers exposed to residues.
Others are birds, mammals, water organisms, bees and plants other than those the pesticide was intended for, according to an EFSA spokeswoman.
The current approval for the active pesticide ingredient – developed by the chemical giant Bayer – expires at the end of April, according to the commission.
Chemical companies and farming associations have criticized the crackdown on neonicotinoid pesticides.