EU ban to help honey bees

Use of fipronil on sunflowers and corn disallowed in Europe

A widely used insecticide—an insect nerve agent called fipronil—will be banned from use on certain crops in the European Union in an effort to protect a declining honey-bee population.

On July 16, EU member states approved a proposal to ban the use of fipronil—which is manufactured by German chemical company BASF—on corn and sunflowers starting Dec. 31, 2013, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper. The pesticide is used in more than 70 countries, including the United States.

Determined a “high acute risk” to honey bees by the European Food Safety Authority, fipronil joins a list of three other bee-threatening insecticides banned by the EU in May.

“The company remains convinced that the decline in bee populations is caused by multiple and complex factors and that the restriction of fipronil will not contribute to protecting bees,” said a statement on BASF’s website following the European Commission’s decision.