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The European Union is set to ban the most widely used insecticides in a bid to protect bees.
The ban on neonicotinoid chemicals, which was approved today, means that they can only be used in greenhouses because of the threat they pose to bees.
This new law comes after scientists and environmental agencies voiced their concerns over the declining numbers of bees, which has been partly blamed on pesticides. Some restrictions were introduced in 2013, banning their use on a number of crops including wheat, barley and oats.
Bees and other insects are responsible for pollinating a whopping three-quarters of all crops, so are vital for food production.
Research has shown that neonicotinoids
can cause harm to bees in a number of ways, including the loss of queen bees. One
pesticide in particular was found to result in an 85 percent loss in the number
of queens a hive produced, according to the Guardian.
A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that the neonicotinoids were a serious threat to bees, no matter where or how they were used.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "The Commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority.
"Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment."
Environmental health secretary Michael Gove has said that Britain will follow the new restrictions.
He said: "The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood."
Campaign group Avaaz set up a petition urging Europe to ban the use of 'toxic bee-killing pesticides', which has almost five million signatures.
Antonia Staats from Avaaz told the Guardian: "Banning these toxic pesticides is a beacon of hope for bees.
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"Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can't live with these chemicals and we can't live without bees."
Emi Murphy, from Friends of the Earth, added: "This is a major victory for science, common sense and our under-threat bees. The evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a threat to our bees is overwhelming."
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