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EU urges two-year ban on 'disturbing' bee insecticides

(BRUSSELS) - The EU urged national governments on Thursday to ban pesticides deemed dangerous to bees by scientific experts in a bid to prevent a disastrous collapse in colony numbers for an insect considered vital to the integrity of the human food chain.

European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said the European Union executive had proposed a "two-year ban" on the use of three so-called neonicotinoid insecticides used in maize, rapeseed, sunflower and cotton cultivation.

Sources told AFP that major EU states Germany, Britain and Spain, amongst others, nonetheless indicated serious reservations about the plans.

A decisive meeting is set for February 25, Vincent added.

The elements in doubt -- clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam -- are present in chemicals produced by pharmaceutical giants Bayer, Syngenta and Cruiser OSR.

The insecticides were said by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) earlier this month to pose "disturbing" risks, with bees and other pollinating insects hugely important for food production, especially of fruit.

EFSA said the so-called neonicotinoid insecticides in question attack the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death.

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