The European Commission has proposed a complete ban on widely used pesticides suspected of harming bees.

The three neonicotinoid pesticides, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid, are already banned on some crops. The commission is proposing that they should be banned on all.

The National Farmers’ Union has claimed that if approved by member states, a ban would cause difficulties for farmers and result in declining yields.

Chris Hartfield, from the NFU’s plant health unit, said: “There are few if any realistic alternatives to these pesticides to control soil-dwelling pests. The pesticides are used very broadly on cereal crops and sugar beet and banning them would leave those crops exposed.”

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