EU states fail to decide on banning pesticides

European Union governments failed to take a decision on whether to restrict the use of certain pesticides that are considered to be harmful to bees, the EU executive body said Friday, a sign of how sharp the divisions continue to be on this controversial issue. 

"The commission put the text to the vote and no qualified majority was reached, either in favor or against of the text," the European Commission said in a statement.

European authorities said earlier this year that three insecticides long suspected of contributing to plunging populations of honey bees pose risks to the insects, and called for such chemicals to be placed under tougher scrutiny.

The cause of the mass deaths in colonies of bees that farmers depend on to pollinate their crops has become a controversial issue in recent years in North America and Europe.

France, Germany, Italy and other European nations previously banned or suspended the use of certain insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, that many farmers and scientists argue are the main causes of declining honey bee populations. The pesticide industry and other scientists say disease and environmental changes are responsible.

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