EU bans popular pesticides from fields to save bee populations

The European Union is taking drastic steps to help protect the world's bee population and will ban the most commonly used pesticides by the end of the year. The ban applies to open fields, but not closed greenhouses. The move follows many studies indicating that these pesticides are contributing to a drastic decrease in bee populations, an issue that threatens the world's crops.

The restriction applies to pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are: clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. The EU points toward a recent scientific review from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has found that most neonicotinoids are harmful to bee populations.

This isn't the first time Europe has targeted pesticides as a way to save bees. Back in summer 2013, the European Union announced a restriction on an insecticide called Fipronil. That restriction similarly followed a review by the EFSA that found the compound harmful to honey bees.

In announcing its new restriction, the EU said: "All outdoor use of the three substances will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where no contact with bees is expected." The Guardian reports that the ban will go into effect within six months.

Based on existing research, neonicotinoids present a high risk to both honey bees and wild bees when used outdoors. This is partly due to the compound's presence in water and soil, which results in the substance appearing in crops and flowers. This problem isn't limited to just the EU, of course; neonicotinoids are used around the world and the same issues exist globally.