Activists of the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR), disguised as bees and with the slogan ‘No bees – No food’, dumped a ton of beet pulp in front of the MR headquarters in Brussels this morning. With the action, she denounces the use of pesticides in Belgium that have been banned by the EU, as they are very harmful to bees. According to XR, the Ministry of Agriculture makes excessive use of “emergency authorizations” to justify the use of the prohibited substances.
XR did not choose to dump beet pulp by chance, because beet cultivation is one of the most important production sectors in our country and is very pesticide-intensive. Among the bee-killing pesticides used in the sector are several molecules of the notorious neonicotinoid family, as well as Sulfaxoflor, first promoted as a harmless alternative, but finally banned by the EU only two months ago.
The activist group says Belgium is a poor learner when it comes to conserving its pollinating insects. According to a study by the University of Bergen, a third of bee species in our country are threatened with extinction, while 12 percent have already become extinct. The cause is the ubiquity of pesticides in our food production, which we even find on our plate. According to a PAN Europe study, our fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticides in the EU. In addition, a recent study by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center shows that of the 39 rich countries analysed, Belgium is the country where young people are most exposed to pesticides.
“It is critical to understand that our future depends on the future of insect pollinators for two reasons. First, because 75 percent of our food production directly depends on their pollination work. Secondly, because their disappearance can affect the entire food chain, threatening the existence of many other animal and plant species,” says a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion.
XR demands that the Belgian government immediately stop issuing emergency permits for pesticides banned by the European Union and that our country initiate a rapid transition to sustainable agriculture.