Use flower power to save Europe's bees: EU lawmaker
Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:43am EST
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Honey bees, whose numbers are
falling, must be given flowery "recovery zones" in Europe's farmlands
to aid their survival, a leading EU lawmaker said Wednesday.
Bees pollinate numerous crops and scientists have expressed alarm
over their mysterious and rapid decline. Experts have warned that a
drop in the bee population could harm agriculture.
"If we continue to neglect the global bee population, then this will
have a dramatic effect on our already strained world food supplies,"
said Neil Parish, who chairs the European Parliament's agriculture
Parish, a British conservative, said vast swathes of single crops
such as wheat often made it difficult for bees to find enough nectar.
But he said farmers could help bees by planting patches of bee-friendly flowers -- including daisies, borage and lavender.
"We're talking about less than one percent of the land for
bee-friendly crops -- in corners where farmers can't get to with their
machinery, round trees and under hedges."
Genetically modified crops, climate change, pesticides and modern
farming techniques have all been blamed for making bees vulnerable to
parasites, viruses and other diseases.
More research is needed to pin down the exact cause of the declining
number of bees, the European Parliament is expected to recommend in its
vote Wednesday evening.
"The experts themselves are mystified," said Parish. "A failure to act now could have catastrophic consequences."
The EU parliament's vote will carry no legal weight but is intended
to nudge the European Commission and EU member states to take the
(Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Catherine Bosley and Paul Casciato)