When cuddly bees influence the rules

May 7, 2013, Youris.com

It may be easier to show concern about cuddly animals like bees than about some of the millions of indigenous insect and microorganisms found in the European biodiversity.

Bees are perceived as cuddly animals. They appear in cartoons as friendly species. Any harm on them—whether it is potential or actual—makes people rather emotional. And because of that bees have the power to make people change. In particular, this is the case with policy makers in Brussels, who just imposed a two-year precautionary ban on a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids, until more is known on its effect on bees.

Bees clearly play a crucial role in the ecosystem, as a pollinator species. But it would be difficult to imagine that other , such as certain types of flies or bettles, or any less cuddly , have the same influence on policy makers as bees. Would you imagine death of droves of, say, spiders triggering the same response as bees? Unlikely. Nor would it be easily conceivable that microscopic bugs trigger the same response, even though they may play an important role in the ecosystem.

Yet, there are numerous insects and entering Europe, that may increasingly need to attract the interest of policy makers. In some cases, both local biodiversity, as well as humans may be at risk. For example, as recently reported on youris.com, Europe may need more refined policies to anticipate the threat posed by invasive alien . These are entering Europe through international trade. We also reported on the need to watch out for microbial stowaways bugs brought into the EU through illegally imported food. We may need policy to be strengthened to protect local biodiversity and public health from diseases they may be harbouring diseases.

All these threats are current and ongoing. Unlike the policy change related to , policies related to these insects and bugs may not become front page news. The interest of EU policy makers towards is the demonstration that policy makers too are truly and deeply humans. They may find it easier to care about cuddly animals than about some of the millions of indigenous insect biodiversity found in Europe. In exactly the same way as most people do.

Some policy makers were quicker to realise the need to be cautious than others. For example, Individual countries in Europe, such as Italy had already imposed their own ban since 2008. And that more research is needed, that may yet yield a wider ban on other pesticides.

So time will tell whether the EU will adopt a more sustainable way of using pesticides. Thus, leaving time for policy makers to worry about the less glamorous species, which are part of the European biodiversity.

Explore further: EU proposal to protect bees stirs hornets' nest

Related Stories

EU proposal to protect bees stirs hornets' nest

January 31, 2013

An attempt to protect Europe's bee population has kicked up a hornets' nest. On Thursday, the EU's commissioner for health and consumer policy, Tonio Borg, proposed to restrict the use of three pesticides—called nenicotinoids—to ...

EU hints at insecticide ban over threat to bees

January 16, 2013

The European Commission hinted on Wednesday that it could ban several insecticides, some made by German chemicals giant Bayer, after scientists found disturbing evidence of harm to bees.

Fate of bees worries Europe's parliament

November 15, 2011

Bothered by spiking mortality rates for bees, Europe's parliamentarians voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to urge the EU to provide more funding for the beekeeping sector.

Recommended for you

Duplicate genes help animals resolve sexual conflict

February 19, 2018

Duplicate copies of a gene shared by male and female fruit flies have evolved to resolve competing demands between the sexes. New genetic analysis by researchers at the University of Chicago describes how these copies have ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.