• • • Eye on France: To bee or not to bee
Over the past three decades, since the introduction of the family of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, Europe’s flying insect population has declined by three-quarters. That’s an awful lot of dead creatures. And think of the impact on the birds and bats for whom bugs are daily bread. Europe is not a good place in which to be a bee. Earlier this summer, according to the Science pages of today’s Le Monde, the European Union decided to do absolutely nothing about a situation which scientists and ecologists have been describing as potentially catastrophic, not just for the bees, birds and bats, but also for us humans, who depend on the pollination work the insects do for most of the food we eat.
Le Monde’s verdict is without appeal. The centrist paper says it took the European parliament six years of senseless hesitation to reach this summer’s decision which is nothing less than a death warrant for biodiversity. To do that, the deputies had to ignore the recommendations of the EU’s official experts at the Food Security Agency. Practically every measure proposed by the experts has been put on the back burner, where they are likely to remain until the autumn of 2021, at best. And the same experts have been warning since 2012 that the current tests do nothing to protect bees and butterflies.
All of which means that, while Europe’s invisible, anonymous administrators can congratulate themselves on taking strong action to deal with one part of a complex problem, the insect biomass continues to decline at a rate conservatively estimated between 75 and 80 percent.