The move completely bans the outdoor uses of three neonicotinoids, or neonics, across the European Union. They include Bayer CropScience's imidacloprid, Syngenta's thiamethoxam and clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience.
The EU had already opted for a partial ban in 2013 on the use of the three chemicals on flowering crops that attract bees, such as maize, wheat, barley, oats and oil seed rape (canola).
"All outdoor uses will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where exposure of bees is not expected," the European Commission said in a statement.
In February, the European Food Safety Authority issued a report adding to the mounting scientific evidence that neonics are a risk to wild bees and honeybees, whose numbers have been plummeting in recent years.
"The Commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority," Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European commissioner for Health and Food Safety said today.
"Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment."
Plenty of lovely bees at #Schuman today. 🐝 Happy that Member States voted in favour of our proposal to further rest… https://t.co/lP9zj3zANZ— Vytenis Andriukaitis (@Vytenis Andriukaitis)1524819290.0
According to Greenpeace EU, the member states supporting the ban were France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, representing 76.1 per cent of the EU population. Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Denmark voted against. Poland, Belgium, Slovakia, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania abstained from the vote.
BBC News noted that manufacturers and some farming groups opposed the action, saying the science remains uncertain.
"The Commission hasn't been able to find that these restrictions have delivered any measurable benefits for bees," Chris Hartfield from the National Farmers' Union in the UK, told the BBC.
"That has been a big question for us, and if we can't be certain they can deliver measurable benefits why are we doing this?"
The ban on the insecticides received widespread public support. Almost 5 million people signed a petition from campaign group Avaaz and more than 633,000 people signed another petition from international consumer group SumOfUs.
"This move is critical for protecting bees and other important pollinators—we hope this ban will encourage governments around the world to follow suit," said Wiebke Schröder, a SumOfUs campaign manager.
New Zealand's Environmental Protection Agency, for one, closely watched the vote.
"When new information is released, the EPA always takes a good look at the science, evaluating it to see if there's something we need to factor into our thinking here," said Fiona Thomson-Carter, the EPA General Manager for Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.
"While existing New Zealand rules around the use of neonicotinoids are working, there could still be instances where non-target organisms, like bees and insects are exposed to the insecticide."
Greenpeace EU food policy adviser Franziska Achterberg welcomed the news but urged the EU to make sure the three neonics are not simply swapped with other harmful chemicals.
"These three neonicotinoids are just the tip of the iceberg—there are many more pesticides out there, including other neonicotinoids, that are just as dangerous for bees and food production. Governments must ban all bee-harming pesticides and finally shift away from toxic chemicals in farming," Achterberg said.
Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health program, praised the decision by European Union regulators, but added that the "EU's wisdom highlights the Trump EPA's folly."
"Although U.S. beekeepers reported catastrophic losses again this winter, and just this past week the EPA closed a comment period on another suite of damning neonicotinoid risk assessments, rather than banning these dangerous pesticides, the agency is actually considering increasing the use of neonics across another 165 million acres," Burd said.
EPA Considers Allowing Bee-Killing Pesticide to Be Sprayed on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland… https://t.co/LuWNIFxIRx— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1513715573.0
Two years ago, the debate over glyphosate's link to cancer took a surprising turn when the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) infamously rejected the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer's March 2015 classification of the weedkiller as a possible carcinogen.
However, new reporting from the Guardian reveals that the European agency's recommendation that the chemical is safe for public use was based on an EU report that directly lifted large sections of text from a study conducted by Monsanto, the manufacturer of glyphosate-based Roundup.
The particular sections cover some of the biggest questions about glyphosate's supposed health risks, including its links to genotoxicity, carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity.
The revelation comes as the European Union debates whether it should extend its licensing of the world's most popular herbicide. As it happens, the EFSA provides scientific advice to the EU and plays a key role in the authorization of thousands of products that end up in Europe's food chain, including genetically modified organisms, pesticides, food additives and nanotech products, according to Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit watchdog group.
Caught red-handed: #Monsanto application copy/pasted into EU food safety body @EFSA_EU report on #glyphosate. See f… https://t.co/Ov9RG3yODJ— Greenpeace EU (@Greenpeace EU)1505471117.0
The Guardian reports that dozens of pages from of the 4,300-page renewal assessment report (RAR) published in 2015 "are identical to passages in an application submitted by Monsanto on behalf of the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), an industry body led by the company."
Additionally, the paper includes a review copied from ex-Monsanto employee John Acquavella and company toxicologist Donna Farmer that "challenges the results of a study which found an association between pesticide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma," the Guardian report states.
EFSA has issued a statement saying, "Every scientific study is scrutinized for relevance and reliability by EU risk assessors based on the evidence contained within the study."
A Monsanto spokesperson told the Guardian, "There was an explanation by EFSA that direct passages from the industry application were included. This should by no means be understood as EFSA's conclusion on glyphosate."
But Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director, issued stern words against the agency in light of the new finding.
"Whether this is a question of negligence or intent, it is completely unacceptable for government bodies to pass off industry analysis as their own," Achterberg said. "It calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process. If regulators rely on the industry's evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry's hands. Voting against glyphosate is the last opportunity our governments have to fulfill their duty to protect us from this dangerous chemical."
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Nadia Prupis
A people-powered energy revolution—an era in which people can produce their own electricity—is possible, and could happen soon, according to a new report released Monday by the environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE).
The report, The Potential of Energy Citizens in the European Union, finds that over half the residents of the EU could be generating their own renewable electricity by 2050. That's 264 million "energy citizens" meeting 45 percent of the region's energy demand through a democratized, citizen-owned system that allows people to be the operators of their own utilities—taking power away, in more ways than one, from a market monopolized by large corporations.
"[People] have the power to revolutionize Europe's energy system, reclaiming power from big energy companies, and putting the planet first. We need to enshrine the right for people to produce their own renewable energy in European and national legislation," Molly Walsh, FOEE community power campaigner, said.
The report also found that overall, 83 percent of European households, whether individually or as part of a utility collective, have the potential to help create, store or help provide renewable energy.
Electricity production by energy citizens, potential to 2050 per Member State.Friends of the Earth Europe
The researchers analyzed the potential for renewable energy generation, storage, and distribution for different categories of "energy citizens"—households generating energy individually; households producing energy collectively as part of a co-op or association; public entities such as schools, hospitals and government buildings; and small enterprises with less than 50 people on staff.
Number of energy citizens for the various technologies assessed, potential to 2050 for the EU28.Friends of the Earth Europe
The report found that:
"[About] 115 million EU households will have an electric vehicle in 2050, 70 million may have a smart electric boiler, 60 million may have solar PV on their roof and 42 million may have stationary batteries on their premises. Another 64 million households could participate in renewable energy production through an energy collective."
[...] About 161 million can potentially provide flexible demand services with an EV, (smart) electric boiler or stationary batteries. A large share of the households that could have demand flexibility could also be an energy producer."
"Citizens are already playing a role in renewable energy projects across Europe—benefiting the local economy, as well as creating public support for the energy transition. Their potential is huge, and this research shows these projects could, and should, be the norm," Dirk Vansintjan, president of the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives, said.
Potential energy storage by energy citizens, estimates for 2015, 2030 and 2050.Friends of the Earth Europe
The report was commissioned by the European Renewable Energies Federation, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace EU Unit, and the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives. The organizations are calling for a framework to promote citizen-owned energy within the European Commission's Energy Union package, the commission's strategy for ushering in a low-carbon economy.
Such a call aligns with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's wish for "the EU to become the world number one in renewable energies," the groups said.
What next? #Portugal beats #Germany this week by running 100% on #renewables for 107 hours straight. Via @EcoWatch: https://t.co/UR9wcGa7x7.— Masdar (@Masdar)1463725337.0
Because the data surrounding renewable energy is limited, there are some uncertainties surrounding the findings, the report cautions, but that in itself is evidence that more in-depth research need to be devoted to the industry and that policymakers should undertake measures to tap the potential of citizens' collective energy creation.
"The EU should be clearing a path for forward-thinking, nimble energy citizens, not supporting big, polluting utilities," Tara Connolly, energy policy adviser for Greenpeace EU, said. "The age of energy dinosaurs is over."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
100% #RenewableEnergy Is Possible, Here's How by @richardheinberg https://t.co/FlXerIdTRB @mzjacobson @greenpeaceUSA https://t.co/4jU1pH5gxG— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1456673032.0