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Thursday 31th January 2013



2 million urge EU to ban pesticides and save the bees

**Britain and Germany set to challenge EU pesticide ban decision in Brussels**


Today, Avaaz will deliver a campaign backed by 2 million people urging the European Commission to listen to the public and the growing body of science and push for an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Avaaz calls on the EC to stand up to pesticide selling lobbies and the UK and Germany, who are set to oppose.

A recent European Food Safety Authority report found that neonicotinoid pesticides are closely linked to the dramatic bee decline across Europe. France, Slovenia and Italy have already introduced national bans on some of these chemicals but so far there has been no collective EU action. The European Commission could recommend a partial ban on the use of these pesticides in Europe today, and seek EU Member States’ support to legislate accordingly.

European citizens are calling and sending messages directly to Agriculture and Environment Ministers urging them to back a comprehensive EU ban. The Avaaz campaign has gone viral, with 25,000 people signing the campaign every hour. This shows the massive public concern for this issue.

Luis Morago, Campaign Director of Avaaz said:
“Our bees are dying out and the future of our food and farming are threatened. The link between these pesticides and the catastrophic collapse of bee colonies across Europe is clear. The EU cannot dither any longer or let the manufacturers of these poisons have the last say. Today, two million people are calling on the Commission to stand firm against the blockers and approve a comprehensive ban to stop the bees chemical armageddon.”

According to the Pesticide Action Network, the German company Bayer together with major manufacturers of neonicotinoid pesticides have spent over $15 million lobbying policy-makers in the US keep these chemicals in use. The British Government has been the most vocal member state challenging the European Food Safety Authority report and questioning the impact of withdrawing the chemicals on the farming sector.

Walter Haefeker, President of European Professional Beekeepers Association said:
“Across Europe, our bees are under increasing pressure. A key factor has been the introduction of a new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids 17 years ago, which EFSA now confirmed to be highly toxic to bees.  Last year we saw one of the worst years for fruit production due to the weather -- with the bees in decline farmers and fruit growers can no longer take pollination for granted.  We urgently need the European Commission to stand up for bees and biodiversity by imposing a total ban of these pesticides.”

Given the impact of these chemicals, Avaaz is calling for the precautionary principle to be upheld and these chemicals immediately withdrawn. The US has seen the collapse of certain bee species to just 4% of what they were. The EU must take heed and act. Bees pollinate 90% of plants and crops and are responsible for supporting 33% of all food supplies in many countries.

Bart Staes, Belgian MEP for the Greens/European Free Alliance said:
"Europe's politicians should prioritise saving the bees rather than listening to the short-term interests of the pesticide industry. A complete ban of all neonicotinoids is the least we can do to stop the collapse of our bee colonies."

ENDS

Contact: for more information or to arrange interviews with experts and Avaaz representatives, please contact Aldine Furio on +33 686 929 330 or at aldine@avaaz.org

Avaaz is a 17-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages). Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 19 countries on 5 continents and operates in 16 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's latest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.