The European Parliament has called for action from the EU to tackle the decline in the numbers of insects which pollinate agricultural crops, ensuring the continuance of Europe’s food supply.
The proposal was presented by two Belgian MEPs, former Flemish minister-president and federal labour minister Kris Peeters (CD&V), and Hilde Vautmans (Open VLD).
“We need measures to be taken and a clear framework created in the new [Common Agricultural Policy] CAP, to encourage biodiversity,” Vautmans said. “That way we can create a win-win situation both for our pollinators and for farmers.”
Bees and other insects feeding on flowering crops incidentally pick up pollen from one plant and deposit it on another, ensuring the plants’ continued survival by fertilisation. But various factors including the use of pesticides and other chemicals, as well as the destruction of insect habitats, have seen to it that the numbers of pollinating insects have drastically declined in recent times. The results could be catastrophic for the agricultural sector and the food supply in general. Estimates are that four out of five agricultural crops rely on pollinators; with the bee alone, some 76% of Europe’s food production would be at risk.
“It is therefore essential that we do all we can to resist any further reduction in the number of pollinators,” Vautmans told the agricultural newsletter Vilt. “The Commission already took an important step in 2018 with the launch of the EU Pollinators Initiative, but it had certain weak points. We as the European Parliament need to pass a resolution to tackle those problem issues.”
The particular problem of the death of bee colonies caused by, among other things, the varroa mite that feeds on bee larvae and can decimate a whole hive, was raised by her co-sponsor Kris Peeters. “The important thing here is that we work harder towards a good system of training for beekeepers,” he said. “The EU is making money available for this from the CAP.”