Since the EU decision in late 2013 to restrict the use of neonicotinoids which some have alleged were causing bee health issues, European farmers have had to revert to older chemicals. These are often less effective because many insect pests have developed resistance against them. “When we remove a tool from the box, that puts even more pressure on the tools we’ve got left,” said farmer Martin Jenkins, who has seen flea beetles for the first time in almost a decade on his 750 acres of rapeseed outside Cambridge, England.
As a result of the EU decision, pest infestation has reached a level that may lead to a 15 percent drop in this year’s European rapeseed harvest, says Bloomberg reporter Whitney McFerron, quoting Hamburg-based researcher Oil World.
According to Oil World’s December report, output of rapeseed may fall to a three-year low of 20.5 million metric tons in 2015, down from a record 24 million last year.
As a result, rapeseed prices for February rose steadily last week, adding 0.5% to €362 a ton on Euronext in Paris. French cereal and Spanish sunflower prices may also rise, said the EU Agricultural Organizations’ representation Copa-Cogeca.
In Germany, most rapeseed farmers have sprayed crops at least twice with alternative chemicals known as pyrethroids this season, said Manuela Specht, a division head at oilseed trade group known as UFOP in Berlin. In past years, they only sprayed once or not at all, she said. Prolonged exposure to some pyrethroids can stunt bee growth, a University of London study showed last year.
So it seems the bees will be no better off as a result of this restriction so who are the winners from the EU decision? ?With lower yields of key crops leading to an increase in commodity prices – it’s doubtful it will be the farmers or consumers either.
Something to ponder in the morning over our breakfast cereals or toast with honey perhaps.
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