The use of neonicotinoids on crops which attract bees - such as maize, wheat, oats and barley - was already outlawed in 2013, but recent reports suggested that plummeting bee populations were still linked to these insecticides.
Their decision tightens restrictions on this group of pesticides enacted in 2013, and follows the publication of research earlier this year finding that three neonicotinoid compounds - imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam - are harmful to bees, according to a statement released by the European Commission, the branch of the EU that proposes and enforces legislation and policies.
"It's great news that Michael Gove listened to the experts and backed the ban - he must now give farmers the support they need to grow food without bee-harming pesticides". Seeds treated with these substances would be allowed to be used in permanent greenhouses, but only if the resulting crop stayed within a permanent greenhouse for its entire lifecycle.
Campaign group Friends of the Earth described the decision of European Union governments as a "tremendous victory" for bees and for the environment.
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"Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can't live with these chemicals and we can't live without bees". "We've seen a brilliant response from consumers since we made this announcement - people really seem to understand just how important it is to support bees in their nature habitat".
The move comes after the European food safety agency said in February that most uses of the chemicals posed a risk to bees, prompting environmentalists to push the 28-nation EU to immediately outlaw them. This decision doesn't change the fact that farmers will continue to face challenges to maintain sustainable and productive cropping systems and the pest problems that neonicotinoids helped farmers tackle have not gone away.
The restrictions are meant to address the alleged risks the substances pose to bee health, but Bayer said that there were "better ways" to support bee health.
"This is key to finding practical ways to protect our pollinators, which can only be achieved by sharing information and raising awareness among chemical manufacturers, bee keepers and the public", says Dr Thomson-Carter.
Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta called the decision "disappointing" and added that "evidence clearly shows that neonicotinoids pose a minimum threat to bee health compared to a lack of food, diseases and cold weather".