BRUSSELS, April 29 (UPI) -- The European Commission says it will ban the use of a class of pesticides linked to bee deaths by scientists despite a split among member states on the issue.
Pesticides containing chemicals known as neonicotinoids are believed to be contributing to collapses of bee populations and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators, the BBC reported Monday.
Fifteen EU countries voted in favor of the ban, eight voted against it while four countries abstained from the vote.
Under EU rules the Commission will now have the option to impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids; officials said they want the moratorium to begin no later than Dec. 1.
There has been considerable argument over what has caused reported declines in bee populations thought to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world's crop production.
Some farmers and crop experts argue there is insufficient data to link neonicotinoid pesticides to those declines.
But environmentalists have applauded the EU decision on a ban.
Monday's vote "makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban," Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said.