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In a Bid to Save Bees, Europe Bans Some Pesticides

Bees congregate on a honeycomb in the colony of beekeper Reiner Gabriel in the garden of his home in Blankenfelde, Germany
Bees congregate on a honeycomb in the colony of beekeper Reiner Gabriel in the garden of his home in Blankenfelde, GermanyPhotograph by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Europe’s beekeepers scored an improbable victory over agrochemical companies today when the European Commission announced this morning it will enforce a partial ban on a trio of commonly used pesticides suspected of killing off honeybees in huge numbers. The restrictions, which could go into effect as soon as Dec. 1, would be the largest ever on a class of pesticides widely used by farmers and gardeners.

The measure came out of EU-funded research to find the cause of honeybee die-offs that have been decimating colonies across Europe over the past decade. North America, too, has not been spared, creating a massive threat to the global food supply. Honeybees pollinate $201 billion worth of crops annually, according to the United Nations. Still, Europe’s decision to finger pesticides as a potential culprit generated massive debate, dividing member nations, and putting the ban in doubt just a month ago.