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ENVIRONMENT

France stops sales of two US pesticides over threat to bees

A French court on Friday halted sales of two pesticides made by US chemicals giant Dow after an environmental group raised fears that the substances could be harmful to bees.

France stops sales of two US pesticides over threat to bees
Photo: AFP
The two products, Transform and Closer, are authorised for sale in 41 countries including the United States, Canada and South Africa, according to Dow.
   
French health authorities gave the pesticides the green light in September, but this has been suspended following the decision Friday by a court in the southern city of Nice pending a further ruling on their legality.
   
Fears have been growing globally in recent years over the health of bees, which help pollinate 90 percent of major crops.
 
Large numbers are dying from “colony collapse disorder”, a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or some combination of these factors.
 
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Paris: Rooftop hives on the rise amid efforts to preserve honeybee populationPhoto: AFP

The United Nations warned last year that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators — particularly bees and butterflies — risk global extinction.
   
Both Dow and French health agency ANSES which approved the pesticides, have two weeks to appeal Friday's decision.
   
Designed for agricultural use, the sprays are intended to kill aphids and other bugs that attack plants.
   
But French environmental group Generations Futures charged that the active ingredient, sulfoxaflor, was a type of neonicotinoid — a pesticide that has been partially banned in the EU since 2013.
   
A study published in the journal Science in October found that 75 percent of the world's honey contained traces of neonicotinoids, which act as nerve agents on bees.
   
Dow insisted in court that its active ingredient was not a neonicotinoid, insisting the chemical was “more respectful to biodiversity”.
   
But judge Didier Sabroux said it was better to err on the side of caution “while uncertainties remain”, adding farmers might ignore instructions to use it only sparingly.

ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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