In an effort to protect critical pollinizing insects from population decline, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has proposed increased restrictions for the limited use of certain insecticides.
Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticidal substances that are accused of causing harm to important pollinizing insect species likes bees that are critical to the production of many types of food. ANSES has proposed extending the existing limits on using these chemicals to winter cereal crops.
The Ministry of Agriculture also released an extension to its plan to support beekeeping in France, including components to research and improve the way chemicals are used to limit bees’ exposure to them and increase the health of the nation’s pollinators.
The plan includes a fight against important health risks to bees: Improving consideration of bee health when using insecticides and decreasing the use of products that harm bees, creating collectives to monitor and fight against diseases afflicting bees, and developing efficient methods to fight against a major predator of bees – the Asian predatory wasp, an invasive species in France.
French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll announced that the government would spend 13 million euros each year for at least the next two years to support the beekeeping industry, with at least 7 million euros of that amount each year going to developing sustainable practices to protect bees, like alternatives to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals.
Around the globe, bee colonies have been showing signs of collapse and general poor health. While many people may not give much thought to the plight of bees on a regular basis, the issue is a critically important one to global food security and the environment.
According to a study by the National Institute for Agricultural Research – INRA, more than a third of the food produced on a global scale depends on pollinizing insects – particularly bees. The same study also showed that crop output can be increased by more than 20% on lands that have a larger number and greater diversity of pollinizing insects.
In a future where food security is likely to be a concern due to disruptions like climate change, important findings like this could play a big role. These efforts also show that France has made a commitment to balancing the needs of farming with important protections of the environment.